By Kirra Grimes
BASS Coast Shire councillors have given Mayor Brett Tessari the best endorsement he could’ve hoped for after 12 months in the chair, reelecting him for another term.
Councillors lavished praise on the Wonthaggi real estate agent at a special meeting in Wonthaggi last Wednesday, November 13, where he was elected unopposed to hold office until the next local government elections in October 2020.
As the gallery erupted in applause and Cr Tessari’s mum, Glenda, burst out in tears of joy following the decision, Tessari’s most vocal supporters were Bunurong Cr Les Larke and Island Ward Cr Pamela Rothfield, who expressed great respect for the “even handed” leadership style demonstrated in his first term.
“What’s most outstanding to me about Brett is his integrity and whole commitment to community,” said Cr Larke.
“There’s no favours; he looks broadly right across the shire.
“And even though I’ve been clamped at different meetings from time to time by the mayor, I respect him for his decisioning in that regard,” he said.
Cr Rothfield had also been “clamped” “a couple of times” but looked forward to another year under Mayor Cr Tessari’s direction.
“We are a really functioning council and it’s got a lot to do with leadership,” Cr Rothfield said.
“You’ve done a fabulous job for this year. And I look forward to us all working together as we have done for the last three years,” she said.
Prior to the vote, Cr Tessari, who represents Bunurong Ward, delivered a speech outlining a year “full of successful advocacy, fantastic projects and initiatives, achievements and challenges” and thanking his fellow councillors and council staff for their support.
Highlights of the past 12 months included investments in upgrades to recreational facilities across the shire; obtaining state government funding to develop and implement the Change for Sam strategy; obtaining state and federal government funding for erosion mitigation; declaring a climate emergency and resolving to work with the community to develop a climate action plan; the Mayoral Fundraiser for Wonthaggi’s Yes Youth Hub; a “huge makeover” for the Bourne Creek trestle bridge at Kilcunda; the declaration of Bass Coast as a distinctive area and landscape; the recruitment of new CEO Ali Wastie; and the commitment of $19 million to redevelop the Cowes Cultural and Community Centre – Council’s “single biggest investment in a project to date”.
“It’s been an incredible 12 months and I’m so proud and humbled to have been given the opportunity to represent the shire as mayor,” Cr Tessari said.
“I am committed to role and it would be an honour to keep representing the shire I am so passionate about, so proud of, for the next 12 months,” he said.
Later in the meeting, Cr Geoff Ellis was elected unopposed as Deputy Mayor for the 2019/20 term, with outgoing Deputy and fellow Western Port Ward Cr Bruce Kent nominating him for the position.
“One of the most caring people I’ve ever come across in my whole life,” was how Cr Kent described Cr Ellis following the vote, while Cr Larke said Cr Ellis was “absolutely outstanding in the social arena”.
Councillors acknowledged Cr Kent for his contributions in his year as deputy, with Mayor Cr Tessari saying his dedication to the role had been impressive.
“As my wingman, he’s done an amazing job and supported me brilliantly over the past 12 months,” Cr Tessari said.
“When I was away for some stints, he took over without a hitch and probably ran the show smoother than I would’ve done.”
Crs Julian Brown and Stephen Fullarton did not attend the meeting.
Cr Fullarton, away in Queensland on a prearranged family holiday, told the Sentinel-Times via telephone he was satisfied with the outcome, as he “saw no reason to change mayor at this point in time”.
“It takes a new mayor 5-6 months to get accustomed to the position, so given this is a very short period we have left, there’s no reason to change,” Cr Fullarton said.
“[Mayor Cr Tessari] has also assured us he will be representing Phillip Island in the strongest possible way; and I look forward to that happening,” Cr Fullarton said.
Cr Brown was contacted for comment.