WARRAGUL ward councillor Joe Gauci tonight replaced North ward’s Debbie Brown as Baw Baw Shire Council mayor.
Above: Joe Gauci (centre, left) and Peter Kostos (centre, right) with the other seven Baw Baw councillors after the vote. Photo: William PJ Kulich.
Councillors vote on who will lead them once every year. Cr Gauci is the third mayor since this council was elected in 2012 – Mount Worth’s Murray Cook led from 2012 to 2014 before Debbie Brown, Cr Cook’s deputy, took the position uncontested. Cr Gauci was deputy during Cr Brown’s time as mayor.
Cr Gauci’s election as mayor was unanimous, as was Mount Worth ward councillor Peter Kostos’ election to the non-statutory position of deputy mayor.
Speaking to councillors and members of the public gathered for the special meeting after his election, Cr Gauci acknowledged former mayors Brown and Cook.
“I hope I can live up to the standards you have achieved,” he said.
He also thanked his family, which he described as his “barometer for issues affecting the public.”
“It is through my conversations with them that I sometimes found out that we (the council) are not [going about things the right way.]”
Asked after the meeting by the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen if “Mayor Gauci” was a title he had set out to achieve when he stood for council at the 2012 election, he said “probably not.”
“I mean, if we go back five years ago I never thought I would be a councillor, let alone be now a mayor. And when I first started in council I didn’t think it would be possible to be but, with things that have transitioned over the time it has been possible to do it and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Usually mayors do not speak on motions, which will be a significant change for Cr Gauci who is often a leading contributor to debates.
“Actually that’s going to be one of the difficult parts – keeping my mouth closed while the debate’s going on,” Cr Gauci told WBBC.
“This group is a very talented group and everyone’s opinion is well known, and I will be able to let mine be well known from the front as well, but it will be different sitting at the front listening.”
Addressing future revenue issues created by rate capping will be a key concern for the next year of this council, Cr Gauci said.
Despite that financial warning, Cr Gauci was upbeat about the projects the council is set to deliver over the coming year.
“Vincent van Gogh had a famous quote which I think sums up this council: ‘Great things are not done by impulse but by a series of small things brought together,'” Cr Gauci said.
Cr Gauci will likely lead councillors to the general local government elections late next year.
In a short speech after his election to deputy, Cr Kostos said he would use his upcoming term as a learning opportunity.
“Over the period of time I’ve been on council I’ve had the privilege of working with several mayors,” Cr Kostos said.
“Under those people I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot, and I’d like to think that in this position of deputy I’d learn more, and assist you (Cr Gauci) in this role.”
Cr Gauci was nominated to be mayor by Cr Cook, a motion seconded by Cr Brown.
Cr Kostos was nominated to be deputy by Cr Brown, seconded by Warragul ward councillor Gerard Murphy.
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