FORMER Armidale Dumaresq mayor Jim Maher said he was disappointed, but not surprised yesterday after losing the top job to newcomer Cr Laurie Bishop.
Yesterday’s mayoral election saw Cr Bishop defeat Cr Maher six votes to four to claim the position of mayor, while Cr Jenny Bailey took the deputy’s role from Cr Herman Beyersdorf by the same margin.
Cr Maher, who was first elected to council in 2004, was elected mayor last year after serving four years as deputy.
He said he wasn’t surprised by yesterday’s events, knowing beforehand there would be a challenger and realising some time ago there was a push for change.
“Being realistic, this agenda was there before I was elected mayor,” Cr Maher said.
“I’m disappointed, yes, but it’s done and dusted and I believe I worked extremely hard and achieved a lot, and I think a vast majority of the city believes that, too.”
He said there were a number of things of which he was particularly proud, including the opening up of more industrial land for the city, a focus on the revitalisation of the city’s CBD, the securing of federal funding for an upgrade of Armidale airport and getting the city’s new library over its final hurdle after last week’s approval of the development by the Joint Regional Planning Panel.
The awards the council had secured in the past 12 months as one of the nation’s top Tidy Towns and for its tourism, environmental and waste management innovations, were also a source of pride.
He said he was determined to work with the new leadership team and wouldn’t become a “disruptive force”.
“The important thing is we all get on and work together and this city prospers as a result.”
New mayor Cr Bishop, who presided over his first council meeting last night, was first elected to council last year along with deputy Cr Bailey.
He and his family moved to Armidale four years ago from Sydney and have relished their tree change.
Cr Bishop said he’d put up his hand for mayor because he thought more could be done to progress the city.
“The situation was I had some skills and a background I thought appropriate to (the position of mayor),” he said.
“I think there’s potential for more than we have achieved, and that’s not to say we haven’t had a lot of success and awards – and that’s a credit to Jim – but I just feel we can do better again.”
One of his first goals is to call a meeting of all 10 councillors to get a sense of their aspirations for Armidale and the projects they feel are important, with the information to form the basis of a “concise plan and vision for Armidale”.
He also said the council needed to establish a population target for the city to determine the level of infrastructure and industry needed in years to come.
In other mayoral elections yesterday, Cr Michael Pearce was re-elected mayor and Cr Bob Crouch re-elected deputy of Uralla Shire Council, both unopposed.
At Guyra, Cr Hans Hietbrink and Cr Audrey McArdle retained their roles as mayor and deputy mayor respectively.