Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Bill Melbourne back as Mitchell Shire Council mayor

And Deb Swan wins an equally-tight race in Strathbogie Shire.

CHALPAT SONTI November 8, 2012 9:00am

2012-13 Mitchell Shire mayor Bill Melbourne and his deputy Kelley Stewart.

There is change at the top of both Mitchell and Strathbogie Shire Councils after two close mayoral elections last night.

Seymour-based councillor Bill Melbourne was elected Mitchell Shire Council mayor for the fifth time, holding off a challenge from Central Ward councillor Ross Lee to triumph 5-4.

Another Central Ward councillor Kelley Stewart was elected unopposed as deputy mayor, the first time for some years the council has filled the role.

Cr Melbourne was previously mayor in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010 and said one of his priorities was to work with chief executive Rebecca McKenzie and the business community to get a solid understanding of what the latter saw as obstacles to growth.

Cr Lee said he believed it was time a central Ward councillor got the job, which has largely been the preserve of North Ward councillors in recent years. Bob Humm (Central) and outgoing mayor Sue Marstaeller (South) have been the only others to get a look in since 2005.

■ Lake Nagambie Ward councillor Deb Swan ousted sitting mayor Mick Williams 4-3 in Strathbogie, to become the first mayor of the shire from the Nagambie area.

Like Cr Melbourne, she highlighted communication as a key priority.

‘‘I am passionate about good communication, and I want to reconnect with our local communities by looking for new and different ways to interact, communicate and most importantly learn from our residents,’’ she said.

Euroa-based councillor Colleen Furlanetto returned to the deputy mayor position when she also ousted an incumbent in Malcolm Little 4-3.

■ More on the Mitchell and Strathbogie Shire Council mayoral contests, including analysis, in next week’s Seymour Telegraph.

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