Axe falls in Bass Coast

Bass Coast Council: newly elected councillors Kimberly Brown (McHaffie), Phil Wright (Churchill), Bass Coast Shire Council CEO Alan Bawden, Neil Rankine (Hovell) and Clare Le Serve (Leadbeater) at the declaration ceremony on Sunday.

VOTERS in Bass Coast have turfed 50 years of experience out the door, electing fresh young representatives instead.

In South Gippsland on the other hand, they’ve stayed pretty much with the tried and true.

Bass Coast constituents had little truck with the Alan Brown reform team which fielded candidates in every ward. Only two of them got in and Mr Brown wasn’t one of them, despite polling the most primary votes.

While former mayor Peter Paul was beaten in Thompson Ward by the reform team’s Andrew Phillips, he welcomed three new women councillors in Jordan Crugnale (Townsend) Clare Le Serve (Leadbeater) and Kimberley Brown (McHaffie).

The other reform team member is Brad Drew, a butcher from San Remo whom many would describe as an “action man” who won in Anderson Ward.

The only sitting councillor to be returned was Phil Wright, who trounced fellow councillor Gareth Barlow.

Mr Wright said the council overhaul suggested the Bass Coast community wanted change, but low rates, offered by the reform team, was obviously not the solution.

Mr Barlow said he’s disappointed, but pleased the reform team wasn’t elected.

Neil Rankine won Hovell Ward beating Alan Brown, Jessica Harrison and John Duscher, who has been in local government for 26 years.

Asked if he had considered being mayor, Mr Rankine replied he hadn’t given it much thought. He and his colleagues face an intensive induction course, starting this week and running over two days at the end of next. They met last evening to become acquainted with each other. They will be sworn in tomorrow, will elect their mayor on November 14 and meet formally for the first time on November 21.

Mr Duscher said Mr Rankine would make a good councillor, but is disappointed to be leaving local government.

“The shire is in a very strong financial position and has strong policies and strategies. There are still some real challenges for the new council – I wish them well.”

Mr Brown congratulated Mr Rankine on beating him, said Mr Drew and Mr Phillips would be “excellent” councillors and commended his reform team for proving “beyond doubt that it is possible to remove a council judged not to be acting in the community’s best interests”.

Mr Brown said the election was the most exciting and best contested ever held in the shire.

Jordan Crugnale won Townsend Ward on the preferences of Roger Thorrowgood, while the reform team’s Murray Hooper polled the strongest primary vote. After seven years representing Townsend Ward and 27 in public life, Ross Smith said he is ready for his next challenge.

“This was the most peculiar election I’ve ever been involved in.”

South Gippsland

Old and new: the newly elected South Gippsland Shire Council Jeanette Harding, Bob Newton, Kieran Kennedy, Lorraine Brunt, Mohya Davies, Nigel Hutchinson Brooks, Jim Fawcett, Don Hill and Andrew McEwen.

In the South Gippsland election, preferences were the decider in the highly contested Strzelecki Ward.

Sitting councillor Bob Newton polled the most primary votes and was followed closely by David Amor.

Preference votes, however, did not poll in Mr Amor’s favour, with Lorraine Brunt and Andrew McEwen elected the two remaining councillors.

Ms Brunt said she was thankful to unsuccessful candidates Frank Hirst and Ian Nicholson for their preferences, which she believed helped her “over the line”.

Coastal-Promontory Ward will remain unchanged with sitting councillors Mohya Davies, Kieran Kennedy and Jeanette Harding all re-elected, with unsuccessful candidate Bruce Beatson narrowly missing out on the third vacancy to Ms Harding.

Successful candidates all expressed their anticipation in working with a cohesive group of both experienced and new councillors.

Ms Crugnale said she was surprised and overwhelmed to be a councillor.

“I’m really looking forward to representing my ward and Bass Coast Council. It’s a great team of councillors that has been elected.”

Bass Coast council paid the Victorian Electoral Commission $189,600 to run the 2012 election, while it cost South Gippsland $155,414, with the possibility of a $10,000 refund because there was no contest in Tarwin Valley Ward.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=5395

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