Cr Tim Drylie was elected Mayor of the Hepburn Shire for 2022 on Tuesday night in a contested election with Cr Lesley Hewitt.
Cr Drylie was elected by four votes to three. Councillor’s Drylie, Bray, Halliday and Simpson voted for Cr Drylie. Councillors Hewitt, Henderson and Hood voted for Councillor Hewitt.
On the one hand, Cr Hewitt argued that the community needed stability and continuity during a difficult period. On the other Cr Drylie maintained he would bring a fresh perspective and a new approach.
Cr Jen Bray was elected Deputy Mayor uncontested, when Cr Brian Hood withdrew following his nomination speech.
Mayor, Cr Tim Drylie, thanked his councillor colleagues and staff for their support.
“The opportunity to serve the Hepburn Shire community as Mayor is such an honour and I’m both thrilled and humbled. I feel very lucky to live and work in such a beautiful part of the world. This Shire is richly abundant in natural assets that we are fortunate to have to explore, appreciate, and protect.”
Bradley Thomas, CEO, congratulated Councillors Drylie and Bray on their election.
“The election of Cr Tim Drylie and Cr Jen Bray as Mayor and Deputy Mayor is recognition of the great work they do on behalf of their communities. Cr Drylie and Cr Bray will be important leaders as we deliver the commitments outlined in the Community Vison and Council Plan, a significant milestone over the last year. I look forward to working with the new Mayor and Deputy Mayor as we navigate the current COVID environment and storm recovery, while delivering many services our communities.”
Cr Hewitt is widely regarded as having done an excellent job as Mayor over the past year. Her conduct of Council meetings has been applauded. She responded with action and sympathy to a number of crises which arose during the year including COVID exposures, lockdowns and the devastation of the June storm. It was undoubtedly a challenging job to lead a group of Councillors, six of whom, including herself, had been elected for the first time.
In comments after the election, all councillors congratulated Cr Hewitt on her performance as Mayor. Cr Hood said Cr Hewitt “should be very proud of the sterling leadership she had given Council over the past year through at times difficult circumstances.”
Nomination speeches and the elections are online on the Hepburn Shire’s Facebook page.
Council faces some difficult decisions over the year ahead and these problems were highlighted by Councillors. The future of the Rex project will be determined at the Council meeting next week when Council will consider the outcome of the latest tender process. The long-awaited Local Government Inspectorate report on the early phases of the project is still expected sometime. The report of Otium Consulting on the Hepburn Aquatics Strategy is also expected in the next months. The clean up from the June storm is ongoing and continues to consume considerable resources.
Council finances are reportedly challenging and it will be difficult to implement Council’s plan without substantial funding from Commonwealth and State Governments. COVID will still a be major issue and recovery remains uncertain at this time.
Community engagement and consultation, the importance of relationships with Commonwealth and State Governments and initiatives to improve sustainability were also prominent topics in the speeches.