AT BASS Coast it appears to be a race-in-two for mayor between the shire’s only re-elected councillor, Clare Le Serve, and newcomer, Cr Pam Rothfield, while at South Gippsland, Cr Lorraine Brunt, seems to be the front-runner for the top job.
Both councils will conduct their mayoral elections on Wednesday week, November 16; Bass Coast in the council chambers at Wonthaggi at 5pm and South Gippsland in the council meeting room at 10.30am.
And while South Gippsland’s newlook brood will not be officially sworn in until Wednesday this week, November 9, at 12.45pm in the Leongatha RSL, Bass Coast’s councillors are off and running after being sworn in last Friday evening.
At the swearing-in ceremony, each councillor responded to questions about their mayoral intentions. Here’s what they said:
• Pam Rothfield: Hadn’t thought I would but I will consider it.
• Geoff Ellis: No.
• Bruce Kent: Too early for me.
• Les Larke: No.
• Julian Brown: Haven’t given it much thought.
• Brett Tessari: Wouldn’t rule it out.
• Clare Le Serve: If I have the confidence of the council, I would be prepared to stand.
• Steve Fullarton: No.
• Michael Whelan: No.
Clare Le Serve seems the obvious choice, having had experience in the role of mayor and also as a councillor but new forces on the council say they want to make a complete break with the past, including symbolically.
They say they’ll attempt to draft Pam Rothfield into the role and that she’ll quickly come up to speed.
Cr Le Serve says she would be happy either way.
“I’ll consult with the other councillors and having the experience of being mayor previously, I feel I have some things to offer,” she said last week.
“I can provide guidance and leadership in the first instance, to build a strong team because I think we’ve got a great skill set with the people we’ve elected.”
She said being mayor is a hard-working position.
“I’ll support whoever puts their hand up, but I would note that I’ve got the time to commit to mayor and I think that’s what the position needs,” she said.
“If I’ve got the confidence of all the new councillors I’d be happy to but there’s no guarantee.
“I wouldn’t think it’s a forgone conclusion just because I was a councillor. You’ve got to earn the respect of your fellow councillors.”
Of the other councillors, Pam Rothfield said she was considering putting her hand up for mayor.
“I’m thrilled with the new council,” Cr Rothfield said at the swearing in.
“It’s a diverse group with a range of skills and ages and I look forward to what we can achieve as a group over the next four years.”
A word from new councillors
PAMELA Rothfield romped in the Island ward election with 3571 first preference votes or 37.04 per cent – a clear favourite with voters.
Now elected, her number one priority is to improve communication between the council and the community.
Her first move will be to introduce ‘coffee with a councillor’, which she will launch in January.
“It will be once a week, every week in Cowes at the coffee shop outside Woolworths and I will have six chairs at my coffee table,” she said.
“People can ask questions of me for one hour every week and I’ll be encouraging other councillors to come and join me.”
She also has plans to launch town hall style meetings once a month.
“I’ve made a commitment to the people of Phillip Island to keep them informed and I will invite all of the councillors to join me at these meetings,” she said.
“Let’s really open it up to transparency and let people feel they are in control of their own destiny.
“My next thing is to get to know my fellow councillors, and we’ve got to work together for the next four years in harmony and make decisions on what our electorate wants.”
JULIAN Brown was the third elected councillor in the Bunurong ward and is looking forward to working together with fellow councillors.
“When I look around at all the candidates that got through, I’m very pleased with the result and I think we’ve got a lot of knowledgeable people in the team,” he said.
“I campaigned pretty strongly on keeping the Inverloch transfer station open so I’ll be looking to make that one of first issues I raise. I need to have discussions with the other councillors about that.
NEWLY-ELECTED Westernport ward councillor Geoff Ellis has enjoyed meeting the community during his election campaign, and will now focus on an issue which inspired him to run for council – the intersection of Lynns Road and Korumburra-Inverloch Road.
“It’s an incredibly dangerous intersection and VicRoads must do something about it,” he said.
“A woman got killed there a few years ago and nothing changes. That’s what got me interested in council.”
Cr Ellis also has plans to help community groups along the Waterline work together to tackle foreshore erosion.
““I’ve thoroughly enjoyed going around the Waterline area. It’s been like an endless tourist drive. The people out there are so friendly and happy to talk about council.”
PHILLIP Island Progress Association candidates Pam Rothfield and Stephen Fullarton received 58 per cent of the primary vote for the Island ward, to see the pair elected alongside Michael Whelan.
Cr Fullarton said the voting sent a clear message from the people of Phillip Island.
“We want to start doing things on the Island now. The last thing we want to claim as our greatest achievement in four years is just another strategy plan – we want to see things actually built,” he said.
“This term we want a swimming pool, we want the foreshores protected and done properly – the Cowes foreshore is an unmitigated disgrace.
“It’s not just Cowes, it’s the whole of the Island so we just want to see some action there and get it all happening.”
NEW Westernport ward councillor Bruce Kent will move to dispel rumours about past council decisions and operations.
“There are rumours out there that rubbish will only be collected every two weeks and there are rumours about the Inverloch tip.
“There are a lot of rumours about development overlay and what the Victorian Government controls, what we control and what the 15 year overlay stands for.
“We don’t want to lose the hamlet feeling of Bass Coast but we don’t want to be greedy and stop people from moving here.
“I’d like to look at the books, see where we stand and inform community and then look at the basics first.”
LES Larke received the highest amount of first preference votes in the Bunurong ward, with 16.79 per cent of the vote in a hotly contested ward.
He enjoyed visiting different parts of the community throughout his campaign and believes his presence during the election campaign helped him earn votes.
Now, Cr Larke said he will attempt to diffuse the angst that occurs between Phillip Island and the rest of the Bass Coast, in terms of resources like capital expenditure.
“I think I can do this through coming up with a model and showing a fair amount of transparency to show resources are allocated fairly across all communities,” he said.
“From a finance point of view, I want to see clear segment reporting for capital expenditure, where expenditure is broken down by ward and communities.”
INCOMING Bunurong councillor Brett Tessari has a strong focus on having the council work together to achieve its goals.
“In the short term, my main goal is to bring the whole council together and be working in the same direction for the whole Bass Coast Shire,” he said.
“Once we achieve that we can achieve all kinds of things. Until we get the council and community heading the in right direction, we’re not going to achieve much.”
A review of the previous council is Cr Tessari’s first move.
“Then we need to take stock of exactly where we are financially with wages and outgoings and ingoings. Once we’ve got a strong hold on that, then we start looking at setting new goals for ourselves.”
MICHAEL Whelan was the third elected councillor in the Island ward in a tight tussle.
He said the tourism strategy for Phillip Island is one of his priorities.
“One of the things I think is important is getting the next stage of the tourism strategy for the development of ecotourism in relation to the changing environment of Phillip Island.
“We’ve only got seven per cent vegetation cover but we need to enhance that because it’s a fundamental part of the rural and environmental character of Phillip Island. I also believe we should preserve town boundaries.”
Cr Whelan also wants to support local music and arts.
“I want to see more vibrant towns in the sense of Cowes and other towns, by supporting live music and venues,” he said.