New mayors lead G21 municipalities


Three G21 municipalities have welcomed new mayors, with elections of Cr Helena Kirby at Golden Plains Shire, Cr Joe McCracken at Colac Otway Shire and Cr David Bell at Surf Coast Shire.

Cr Kirby, pictured, has replaced Cr Des Phelan to serve for a one-year term and is serving her third term on Golden Plains council.

The Rokewood resident and small business operator said she intended to lead an inclusive and collaborative council.

“We want to consult and collaborate more with our communities to provide residents with a wonderful place to live and work,” Cr Kirby said.

“Living in a smaller local community gives me the chance to hear direct from locals about a whole range of issues, including how well council is meeting their expectations.

“Golden Plains is made up of over 50 of these small communities, as well as the larger towns, and we are fortunate to have a good spread of councillors across the shire.

“We will have to work hard as a team, with my fellow councillors and with senior management and our new CEO to anticipate the challenges that no doubt lie ahead and to make the most of the opportunities that will also arise.”

Cr Kirby congratulated retiring Rod Nicholls on his 23 years as CEO, welcomed incoming CEO Eric Braslis and commended her predecessor Cr Des Phelan on his five terms as Golden Plains mayor and many years of contribution to the shire.

Cr Joe McCracken, at 29, is the youngest councillor to have been elected Colac Otway Shire mayor.

He replaces Cr Chris Potter and will lead the council for 12 months, with Cr Jason Schram as deputy.

Cr McCracken said he was honoured to take the post and looked forward to working closely with councillors, the shire organisation and wider community.

“We’ve got a passionate group of councillors who want to do great things for this community,” he said.

“My work as a teacher puts me in touch with our community’s future leaders and I think I am in a unique position to bring more of a youth focus to the mayoral role.

“I’m excited about stepping into a leadership position and I’d like to thank my colleagues for entrusting me with the office of mayor.”

Cr McCracken said appointment of a new chief executive officer was one of council’s most important upcoming tasks.

“We have a busy year ahead as we work on increasing our community’s involvement in projects such as our budget preparation, and reviews of our rating strategy and road management review,” Cr McCracken said.

“Bushfire recovery at Wye River and Separation Creek will also step up a notch with the installation of a new stormwater system, and work also continues on realising the community’s vision for the future of Apollo Bay harbour.”

Cr David Bell replaced Cr Brian McKiterick and will be supported by Cr Clive Goldsworthy as deputy.

He said having been elected to the post for the first time was humbling.

“I thank my fellow councillors for this privilege,” he said.

Cr Bell moved to the Surf Coast with his family in 2002. They run an organic farm at Bellbrae and Cr Bell manages Torquay Farmers Market.

A director of the Regional Waste and Resource Recovery Group and the Renewable Energy Taskforce, he will guide council ambitions help community and environment to thrive.

“Our councillors will work together to advance the residents of the Surf Coast Shire,” Cr Bell said.

Surf Coast Shire CEO Keith Baillie congratulated Cr McKiterick and outgoing deputy mayor Cr Carol McGregor for their commitment.

Sources: Golden Plains, Colac Otway and Surf Coast shires media releases.