PREVIOUS South Gippsland Shire Council mayors Jim Fawcett and Jeanette Harding will be back at the head of the table. Cr Jim Fawcett was elected as mayor with only a slight majority over incumbent Kieran Kennedy during Wednesday’s special meeting. Cr Harding, who was mayor of South Gippsland during amalgamations, will serve as a deputy, after fighting off previous deputy mayor Mohya Davies. Cr Davies was deputy mayor during Warren Raabe’s first year as mayor. Cr Fawcett said he was well-placed to help the shire approach a number of key issues this year. Amongst those he listed: justifying a tough budget with assistance from the rating review panel, finalising a land realisation strategy, the CEO’s contract review and solving the shire’s six outdoor pools conundrum. “The second year of a council term is the most crucial,” Cr Fawcett said. “… We will have to change to meet the challenging circumstances that come to us. “If we don’t change, we won’t change the situation.” Prior to the vote, the incumbent Kieran Kennedy thanked councillors for their support and an overview of what was achieved and what remains for the next three years of this council. “It was 364 days ago that I committed, as mayor, to lay the foundations for council in the short and long term,” Cr Kennedy said. Cr Kennedy noted challenges/opportunities that arose including: a $4.6 million unfunded superannuation shortfall which threatened the hard fiscal decisions council had made over 13 years; a rate rise that was below the draft put to the community; the inclusion of caravan parks into council business; discussions around the outdoor pools (decision due in 12 months); improvements in speed of planning development approvals; customer service satisfaction improving; and council rising to top 10 in the state for asset management procedures. Former deputy Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks did not stand for election as mayor or deputy. He commended council on its civility and professionalism.