Council takes a Gamble on new mayor

November 25, 2021 BY

New year: Golden Plains Shire mayor Cr Gavin Gamble with his deputy, immediate former mayor Cr Helena Kirby at the Civic Centre in Bannockburn. Photo: SUPPLIED

JUST over twelve months into his first term on council, Cr Gavin Gamble has been elected the mayor of the Golden Plains Shire for the 2021 to 2022 year.

With a deep love of the district, he said it’s “an honour and a privilege” to have the opportunity to lead the way for the next 12 months.

“I have a genuine passion for this Shire, its environment, its people, its diversity and its potential,” he said.

“I will work hard to be consultative with all councillors, endeavour to represent all residents, seek to speak and act responsibility, professionally and with consideration, and make myself available as much as possible, to travel, engage and represent all parts of our Shire as equally and fairly as possible.”

Approaching State and Federal elections in 2022, Cr Gamble, who was elected as an endorsed member of the Greens, plans to continue to build alliances with two tiers of government, regional bodies and community groups, and raise awareness of the municipality’s needs.

Addressing social, economic, and environmental challenges is a priority for the mayor, as is climate “adaptation and mitigation.”

“I feel excited about the possibilities to achieve great things for our community.

“I’d like to thank the any good people in our Shire… who I’ve come to know in the last year and look forward with excitement to meet more of the many outstanding people who live in the Shire,” he said.

Saying he was grateful to his family, Shire CEO Eric Braslis, directors and management for their support over his first 12 months on council, Cr Gamble also paid tribute to all “dedicated and highly professional” Shire employees who assist in making the region a “great place to live.”

Immediate former mayor Cr Helena Kirby was the only nominee for deputy-mayor, and was elected unopposed.

“With 56 communities in the Shire, and the work that has been previously done to support them, I will ensure that all our towns, large or small, have the backing of me as a councillor, and that I’m a voice for you to be heard,” she said.

“Our overall policies are ensuring our rural Shire keeps and maintains its rural aspect, while working hard to minimise rates.

“As a team player, I look forward to the next 12 months by working hard for the team and the staff, CEO and residents of the Shire. I’d like to thank mayor Gamble for taking me on as his deputy mayor.”

Cr Gamble gave a “special mention” to his deputy-mayor, as she transitions from the position of leader, which she has held multiple times within her four terms on council.

“I’d like to thank Cr Kirby for her commitment, work ethic, and dedication over the past year as mayor. Her guidance, kind words and encouragement have been appreciated by all of us,” he said.

However, Cr Gamble’s ascent to the top job was not a smooth as his deputy’s.

Cr Ian Getsom. Photos: FILE

He had to beat out two other nominees for the big chair, with former mayor Cr Owen Sharkey and fellow freshman representative Cr Ian Getsom both putting their hands up.

In the initial vote, Cr Getsom backed himself, alongside Cr Kirby.

Cr Sharkey voted for himself alongside Cr Les Rowe, while Cr Clayton Whitfield and Cr Brett Cunningham voted for Cr Gamble, as did the nominee.

As an absolute majority of four was not seen, a vote second vote was held to keep either Cr Getsom or Cr Sharkey in the race.

Cr Kirby, Cr Gamble and Cr Cunningham voted to keep Cr Getsom in the running, alongside the nominee, while Cr Sharkey was eliminated on his own vote, and those of Cr Rowe and Cr Whitfield.

In the final vote, Cr Getsom had his, Cr Kirby’s and Cr Rowe’s backing, but Cr Cunningham, Cr Whitfield and Cr Sharkey supported Cr Gamble, as did the nominee, making him the new Shire mayor.

Immediate former deputy-mayor and defeated challenger Cr Getsom was not unhappy with the election outcome, congratulating Cr Gamble, but he was “so disappointed” with the process.

Approaching the election, he said he made a solid plan with fellow members of a grouping of councillors that’s become known as the Time for Change coalition, which includes Crs Cunningham, Whitfield and Kirby.

Yet it didn’t eventuate on the night.

“I was guaranteed by that group that I would get in as mayor. The group’s not sticking together,” he said.

Cr Owen Sharkey.

“I don’t think it’s a decision that’s fair on the majority of the ratepayers that voted for Time for Change. A lot of the residents in the north of the Shire are very disappointed.

“I’m disappointed that I’m not there to lead this Shire. The election wasn’t run fairly and I don’t know where we can go from here.”

Since the vote concluded on the evening of Tuesday, 16 November, Cr Getsom said he has received “abusive” emails relating to its outcome and the coalition.

Meanwhile, Cr Sharkey said he had “no huge aspirations” to be mayor this year, although he nominated himself to offer an experienced option.

Yet, he believes the outcome is “good for the Shire.”

“With Time for Change… broken up, it will force councillors to be more independent in their thought processes,” he said.

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