Norm wants to take the lead

September 12, 2017

Former Edward River Council administrator Ashley Hall casts his vote in the 2017 council elections.

Norm Brennan has already flagged an intention to stand as mayor of the new Edward River Council.

It was always going to be a possibility for the immediate past mayor of Conargo Shire Council, but he said he owes it to the residents to take on the top role.

‘‘I think I have to stand as mayor considering the results at the polls,’’ Mr Brennan said yesterday.

‘‘I have received a large number of phone calls from people asking for me to stand for the job.

‘‘As for the deputy, once we know the composition of the new council we’ll have to see who is available for the job.’’

Even before the postal vote deadline closed at 6pm last night, Mr Brennan held a comfortable majority across the council area.

He took an early lead on Saturday night and yesterday was sitting at 20.15 per cent of the vote (1024 first preferences).

He was well clear of the next highest polling candidates, with Pat Fogarty receiving 10.07 per cent (512 votes) and immediate past Deniliquin Council Mayor Ashley Hall on 9.80 per cent (498) at the time of going to print yesterday.

With at least 1170 votes yet to be counted, the final make-up of the council could alter dramatically in the next few days.

The next nine highest vote getters are all relatively close, which means the remaining first and subsequent preferences to be distributed could see any combination elected.

Newcomer Peta Betts polled fourth highest in the primaries counted to date, with 379 (7.46 per cent), followed by former Conargo councillors Mac Wallace (374 or 7.33 per cent) and Norm McAllister (354 or 6.96 per cent) and fellow newcomer Margaret Bull (353 or 6.94 per cent).

Next along the line are former Conargo councillors Peter McCrabb (277, 5.45 per cent) and Nick Metcalfe (227, 4.47 per cent), one-time Deniliquin councillor Rob Sobolewski (224, 4.41 per cent), former Deniliquin councillor Peter Connell (215, 4.23 per cent) and newcomer James Sides (203, 3.99 per cent).

Three former Deniliquin councillors did not have an impact with votes counted thus far — Andrew Howley (110, 2.16 per cent), Jeff Shand (70, 1.38 per cent) and Sue Taylor (60, 1.18 per cent).

Also failing to make an impact at the polls on Saturday were one time Hay councillor Airlie Circuitt (102, 2.01 per cent) and newcomer Pete Robinson (101, 1.99 per cent).

Mr Brennan said while the make-up of the council could change dramatically, it looks like Edward River Council will have a diverse range of councillors.

‘‘I think on the whole the results show that the community wanted a change; they want something new and different,’’ Mr Brennan said.

‘‘Before the election I wrote a blog saying the time had come and that I hoped we would get a balance of old and new councillors, and I think it may be achieved.

‘‘It also looks like we’ll have a balance of rural and urban representation, and it also appears we may have three women on the council.

‘‘There are some positives we can read out of the results so far, and we will have to work together to deliver for our community.’’

Mr Brennan said his vision for council includes improving fiscal responsibility and service delivery.

‘‘We have to listen to what the community wants, but we also have to make sure we have sound business plans.

‘‘There are a lot of proposals for the district, and we need to make sure if we’re going to invest or spend money we’re doing it in the right way.’’

The inaugural Edward River Council meeting has been scheduled for 5pm on Thursday, September 21.

Council general manager Adam McSwain said it will be held at the council chambers in Cressy St, Deniliquin and would see each of the councillors-elect make their oath or affirmation of office.

“The agenda for the post-election meeting will also include the election of the first Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Edward River Council, and members of the community welcome to attend the meeting, which is open to the public,” he said.

“One of the first items up for discussion with the councillors-elect will be the council meeting schedule and the dates and times that meetings will be held.

‘‘We expect a report will be taken to the September council meeting for a decision on this.’’

Edward River Council was formed through the merger of the former Deniliquin and Conargo Shire councils in May 2016.

It was part of the NSW Government’s Fit for the Future reform process, born out of concerning results of a NSW Treasury Corporation (TCorp) report into council sustainability in 2013.

To date, the council has been managed by government appointed administrator Ashley Hall, with assistance from former councillors of both councils who made up a Local Representation Committee

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