CR DON Hill has emerged victorious after a three-way contest for the role of mayor at the South Gippsland Shire Council, defeating two other candidates for the top job; Cr Aaron Brown and Cr Ray Argento, in a vote earlier today, Wednesday, November 21.
The role carries with it an allowance of $79,612 per annum, plus 9.5 per cent super, as against the allowance for a councillor of $25,730.
However, Cr Hill has rejected claims he promised Cr Ray Argento his support at the 2019 mayoral election, next year, in exchange for the crucial vote he needed this time around, for a majority of 5:4, after Cr Argento went out in the first round of voting.
“Absolutely not. I had absolutely no idea who would be mayor and was quite anxious about it last night,” he told the Sentinel-Times after the meeting.
“In fact, as you saw, I was surprised about the result.”
Certainly Cr Hill appeared surprised and emotional as he stood to accept the majority support of the council at the 12.30pm ‘Special Statutory Meeting’ today.
“I’m speechless,” he said, standing as mayor for the first time.
“And also humble to think of this council placing its trust in me,” he said with his voice breaking slightly with emotion.
“I see the role of mayor as distinct from that of a councillor and I’ll be saying less in the council room than I would have as a councillor.”
Cr Hill said he would leave it at that for the time being.
But claims have been made that Cr Hill only stitched up Cr Argento’s support in the last couple of minutes before the meeting, Cr Argento allegedly agreeing to vote for Cr Hill if he himself was unsuccessful.
Cr Hill has rejected those claims.
The voting for mayor went like this: Cr Ray Argento was nominated by Cr Alyson Skinner. Cr Aaron Brown was nominated by Cr Lorraine Brunt, the out-going mayor. Cr Don Hill was nominated by Cr Jeremy Rich.
In the first show of hands, Cr Argento attracted the support of two councillors (Skinner and himself), Cr Brown attracted three votes (Brunt, Fawcett and himself) and Cr Hill four votes (Cousin, McEwen, Rich and himself).
With only two votes, Cr Argento was declared defeated by CEO Tim Tamlin acting at the returning officer and a new vote was taken. Cr Skinner voted for Aaron Brown and Cr Argento voted for Cr Hill; Cr Hill was declared the winner with five votes to four.
Earlier all candidates had given five-minute speeches in support of their nomination with several people noting how impressed they were by Cr Aaron Brown’s address in particular.
Cr Hill explained, during an interview with Channel Nine Gippsland afterwards that he wanted to make it clear during his speech that he had no vested interest in coming to council.
“Some people think all councillors have a vested interest and that’s why they are there but I wanted to make it clear that I don’t.”
Earlier Cr Hill had said he had no land development interests, was not using his position on council as a step-ladder to a political career and did not represent any specific interest groups.
CAPTIONS: Above. Out-going mayor Cr Lorraine Brunt received a presentation and the thanks of the council for her 12 months in the role. Below, Cr Ray Argento offers to take on the role of mayor for a second time and Cr Aaron Brown spoke strongly in support of his nomination for the role of mayor.