NORTH Ward councillor Debbie Brown is likely to be Baw Baw mayor heading into 2015 with present mayor Murray Cook not planning to stand again in next month’s mayoral election and other councillors showing little interest in taking the role at present.
This article was first published in the 10 October 2014 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen. Get your copy now for even more news and entertainment.
The election will be held next month. Mayoral elections in Baw Baw are conducted among councillors with no public vote undertaken, similar to the selection of leaders in many state and federal political parties.
Cr Brown has spoken publicly about her desire to become mayor since she joined the council at the same time as Cr Cook in 2012, and a survey of councillors undertaken by the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen suggests no other councillors are seriously considering contesting the position this year.
Reasons given ranged from no desire to hold the role to the amount of time away from other work holding the position would require.
Cr Cook has held the position since he was elected to the council for Mount Worth ward two years ago, with Cr Brown his deputy for the entire time. At the time of his re-election as mayor in 2013, Cr Brown said Cr Cook’s second term was appropriate.
“We have this year spent a lot of time, a lot of energy… getting policies looked at, getting to a stage where we’re now ready to start kicking some goals and I think that’s not fair to have Murray do a lot of the hard work as interim mayor and have [me] step in and take all the glory,” she said in 2013.
Cr Cook recently told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen he was ready to hand the position over to someone else.
“I’ve had two years as mayor. It’s a seven-day-per-week job,” he said.
“It’s like a sponge, it will take as much as you’re prepared to put in.
“We’re working as a team and I think we will continue the four year term in the same manner as has been set by the first two years, so I’m quite confident on the behalf of the public that the last two years will continue in the same way.”
Cr Cook said he might step into the role again if circumstances required him to do so, however he would not be pushing to take the job again.
“Never say never, but at this stage I know we’ve got a good team and I’m sure that the new mayor will, with the support of the other nine councillors, the same support that I’ve had, rise to the occasion,” he said.
Cr Brown was clear in an interview with the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen she planned to stand for mayor this election.
“I’ve made that knowledge since last year that I would be having a go this year, and I’m still going to,” she said.
“It’s always making sure what’s best for the community, and having Murray there for this year has been fantastic, but I’ve said from the start that I want to have a go at mayor, and hopefully I’ll have the support of the other councillors.
“I am well and truly ready to have a go this time, it’s just timing, and I’m always big on timing.”
Cr Cook said the key concern for anyone replacing him should be on securing funding from other levels of government.
He also said the highlight of his two years in the role had been a financial review conducted early on.
“We saw the need for the policy review of our finances, getting our finances so we’re confident of the way we’re heading was an important first step,” he said.
“The whole thrust has been trying to get our organisation running more efficiently, and I think we’ve started that well.”
“There’s still a lot of work to be done, it’s a big ship to turn around as they say, but I’m pleased with the progress we’re making and hopefully the momentum will keep going even quicker.
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