OUR NEW LEADERS: Changes at the top in our shire council
AT the special council meeting held last week, the new councillors for the Shire of Mansfield were sworn in.
After the declaration of the polls, Mansfield’s councillors for the next four years are Marg Attley (Tolmie Ward), Peter Olver and Paul Volkering (Mansfield), Paul Sladdin (Bonnie Doon) and Harry Westendorp (Jamieson).
The councillors took the oath of office in front of a large gallery of family and friends, promising to ‘undertake the duties in the best interests of the people of the Mansfield Shire’.
The mayoral and deputy mayoral terms were set at 12 months.
There was some intake of breath from the public gallery when the only nomination for mayor was the new councillor for Mansfield ward, Paul Volkering, and for deputy mayor the other incoming Mansfield ward councillor Peter Olver.
Both were elected to their positions unanimously and unopposed.
The mayor provided t he following incoming mayoral speech (edited):
“I grew up here and I feel very privileged and honoured to have been elected as your mayor,” Cr Volkering said.
“For a Mansfield boy, born and bred, it is truly a humbling experience and I hope I can do justice to this important role that you have bestowed upon me.
“As your mayor, every day that I am in this job will be spent embracing our community in such a way that we forge positive relationships with everyone in the community, even more than we have to date. “For me it started today. “I’d like to thank Cr Westendorp for nominating me and Cr Sladdin for supporting that nomination.
“I feel confident, because I am but one member of a diverse team.
“Together with my fellow councillors we will help shape our community as we move forward, but so too will Alex Green, as CEO, and his team.
“And on that note, I would ask that Mr Green pass on to the entire staff, without exception, our thanks for the wonderful job they are doing and that we look forward to working along- side them to shape the future of Mansfield.”
Allowances for councillors and mayor were set at a total of $21,188 for councillors and $63,304 for the mayor.
In addition, all councillors receive a flat rate travel allowance set at 66 cents per kilometre.
Under the act, the review of allowances is open for a period of 28 days and as such will be submitted to the December 21 ordinary meeting of council.
A schedule of ordinary meetings of council was adopted.
Prior to the special meeting, the Mansfield Courier posed two questions to the five incoming councillors at the start of their new term in office.
Q1) Your reaction to being elected (unopposed) to Mansfield ward?
Q2) What are your personal goals/aims/objectives as a councillor for Mansfield Shire? Paul Volkering (Mayor - Mansfield Ward) Q1: While I was surprised at not having to go to election, I am somewhat understanding of the fact that many people don’t have the time to be able to commit to the work of local councils.
Regardless of how many people stood for election, I intend to work as hard as I can to serve the people of the Mansfield Shire and not just those in my ward.
Although it would have been good to have more people stand, I’ve been very humbled and appreciative of those who have offered their support and good wishes.
Q2: I feel very fortunate to have grown up in this fantastic town and environment, so with a bit more time on my hands, I felt I could give something back.
I think most people are deeply grounded in their own community, so my personal goals are to ensure that the overall health, safety and well-being of our community continues to be enhanced.
Simultaneously, I think it important to be able to articulate to other levels of government, some of the complexities that our shire faces.
We are a geographically and socio- economically diverse community, and we have a wide range of needs, so along with the other council members, I intend to try and prioritise projects and opportunities for the benefit of the whole community. Peter Olver (Deputy Mayor - Mansfield Ward) Q1): I am really excited and honoured at being elected to the Mansfield Council representing the Mansfield Ward.
I would like to heartily thank all those who have supported me in the process.
There is only one other council in Victoria where all the candidates were elected unopposed and although surprised and thankful I was pleased that a spin off meant it saved our ratepayers a considerable amount of money in not having to vote.
The five councillors are fortunate to be working with our very capable CEO Alex Green and his team and for a fantastic Mansfield Community.
Q2): We are in a terrific position where all councillors have a passion for our community and time to focus and work on continuing to mould Mansfield as one of the most liveable shires in our country. Marg Attley ((Councillor - Tolmie Ward) Q1: I am honoured to be returned to council for the next term.
Despite this, I am disappointed that residents across the shire did not exercise their democratic right to stand for council.
There are many who have opinions and suggestions about how council should be run but don’t put themselves forward to be involved. Q2:
Continue to serve the needs of all communities;
Develop stronger community engagement across all areas of council programs and processes;
Through the budget process, develop participatory budget processes with involvement of key community members;
After broad consultation, make a decision about the future use of the saleyards site;
Develop a Youth Council as part of Youth Services delivery;
Investigate the opportunity for Natural Gas provision;
Review Council Advisory Committees;
I am looking forward to working closely with the council team to assess the needs and vision of our communities. Paul Sladdin (Councillor - Bonnie Doon Ward) Q1): Firstly, I’d like to say that I am honoured to be again representing the Bonnie Doon Ward.
It is certainly a stark contrast to when I was first elected in 2012 when there were 12 candidates standing for the five positions; and a few local wits have commented we now have a “Steven Bradbury Council”.
It’s not a great advertisement for democracy and I’d hate to think it’s a case of apathy.
Having an election campaign allows the community the opportunity to become aware of the candidates’ views and values and this is particularly relevant to Mansfield Shire given its uniquely high percentage of non-resident ratepayers who do not have the local knowledge of the candidates.
I would like to think that ratepayers overall were satisfied with the previous council and this was evident in the 2016 Local Government Community Satisfaction Survey where Mansfield Shire Council outperformed its peers and the rest of the state in all key areas.
It was a council that cut rates, increased rural road expenditure and paid greater attention to the outlying communities with the roll out of Community Plans which resulted in long overdue community infrastructure.
It was also a council that revised the Planning Scheme which had been neglected for 15 years and implemented the Domestic Wastewater Management Plan to ensure continued development within the shire.
I am, however, both surprised and disappointed that some of the serial letters to the editor writers did not have the courage to put their hands up for election.
Q2): My personal objective is to work as part of a team with my fellow councillors to ensure that the outlying communities continue to receive an equitable share of council expenditure and to see the implementation of all the recommendations of the council endorsed Lake Eildon Land and On-Water Management Plan. Harry Westendorp (Councillor - Jamieson Ward) Q1: I was encouraged to stand for the Jamieson Ward by a number of the incumbent councillors and others from that ward.
I had expected a contested election, and was surprised when that didn’t happen.
I am aware that, after I nominated, at least one other person chose not to stand.
While that may be personally satisfying, I do believe that a ballot with multiple candidates is generally a good thing as it offers voters a greater choice.
I am pleased to have been successful and look forward to contributing to Mansfield Shire.
Q2: Through my primary schooling i n Bonnie Doon, and having been a non-resident ratepayer for the past 16 years, I have developed a deep commitment to this district.
I believe that Mansfield has a great mix of lifestyles, interests and cultures.
As a councillor, I will seek to balance the sometimes competing needs of all the groups in our community, so that we can develop further without losing the character of the shire that makes it so appealing to many.
Sworn in last week were the new Mansfield Shire Councillors (back, from left,) Harry Westendorp, Paul Volkering and Paul Sladdin; (front) Marg Attley and Peter Olver. The new councillors will serve a four year term leading the Mansfield Shire.