Winners declared in Golden Plains Shire council election

November 6, 2020 BY

Photos: FILE. Image: ERIN BUSH

THE next Golden Plains Shire council will be a mix of the old and the new, with three of the incumbents returning to the seven-seat council.

The Victorian Electoral Commission officially declared the results of the poll late on Thursday, 5 October.

In election order, the new councillors are Brett Cunningham, Owen Sharkey, Ian Getsom, Helena Kirby, Gavin Gamble, Clayton Whitfield and Les Rowe.

Mr Cunningham was the most popular candidate on first preferences, receiving nearly 15 per cent of the vote in the 13-strong field.

“I didn’t think I’d go as well as I did, so it’s been a bit of a humbling experience for me,” he said.

He attributed some of the result to his coalition with fellow candidates Clayton Whitfield, Andrea Mahon and Ian Getsom.

“Four of the new candidates got together to help promote each other and assist each other, because it’s the first time we’ve done it, and in the COVID environment it was always going to be very hard, but I think we worked well together,” he said.

“I also think there was a bit of a feeling in the community that they wanted to see new faces at the council; it was time to change.”

He said voters responded to issues such as planning in Inverleigh and the conditions of local roads, as well as “a bit of a fracture in the chamber” between some councillors.

“One of the things I hope to do is that with some new faces in there, we can start fresh and a bit more of a cohesive environment.”

Cr Kirby, Cr Rowe and Cr Sharkey successfully defended their seats at the election.

Cr Sharkey, who received a little over 10 per cent of first preference votes, which put him second behind only Mr Cunningham, said he had “mixed emotions” about the result.

“It’s always good to see fresh faces coming along to council – we had two existing councillors retire, so there was always going to be those fresh new faces.

“During my campaign, I really echoed that being an unsubdivided ward, we need specific representation in the Shire, and I must also admit I’m personally disappointed we were only left with one female out of seven councillors. I think that’s quite a shame.

“Also, the north of the Shire has lost a seat – council strongly advocated for a ward system, and we got that up and it was agreed by the VEC last year, and then the State Government overturned that and left us unsubdivided, and this is the result of that.”

He said it was a “brutal” campaign for him, having suffered many personal attacks “and all of it completely untrue,” but he likewise hoped for a cohesive council.

“We’ve got to spend the next four years working together, so one would like to see that workplace environment a lot better than how some of the previous councillors left it.”

The new council will be sworn in at the oath or affirmation of office ceremony on 14 November at 10.30am, and the meeting to elect the mayor and deputy mayor will be held on 17 November at 6pm. Both meetings will be livestreamed, with a link available at the council’s website on the day.

The first monthly council meeting of the 2020-2024 term will be held on 24 November 24, with the final meeting of the year on 15 December 15. Both meetings will start at 6pm, and will also be livestreamed on the council’s website and YouTube page.

For full election results, including preference flows, head to vec.vic.gov.au/results/2020-council-election-results.

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