Mayoral elections in two shires yesterday saw the shock overthrow of former council leaders with Robyn Faber beaten at Narrabri and Mal Peters dumped at Inverell.
The results were a surprise but observers suggest the results are a backlash to the more autocratic or presidential style of the two
former mayors and a changing attitude to bring more inclusive, team leadership.
At Narrabri, Cr Faber was beaten by nine votes to three in a two-way ballot with long-time Wee Waa resident and two-term councillor
Conrad Bolton. Cr Bolton is a retired agricultural spray operator, prominent National Party supporter and was recently appointed chairman of the Namoi Catchment Management Authority.
His deputy becomes Bevan O’Regan, a 30-year veteran of local government in Narrabri, and a man variously described as having a knowledge of local government in the Namoi as vast as the Magna Carta is old.
At Inverell, the sparks also flew with the defeat of long-serving agri-politician Mal Peters.
Cr Peters was narrowly beaten by his former deputy, Paul Harmon, after serving just one term as the Inverell mayor. He succeeded long-term mayor Barry Johnston last year but was dumped in yesterday’s ballot, beaten by a long-serving
councillor and Inverell bus service operator.
Cr Peters holds a number of other high-profile positions in federal government committees including chairman of Regional Development Australian for the north and a former president of NSW Farmers.
It is believed Cr Peters declined to stand for the deputy’s position and the new deputy is Cr Di Baker.
The council had only one new councillor elected – Phil Girle – who joined the eight re-elected councillors.
Guyra Shire Council has also finalised its mayoral team.
Councillors re-elected Cr Hans Hietbrink as mayor for his second consecutive term.
Newcomer Cr Simon Murray was the only other councillor to contest the position which resulted in four votes to two in favour of the former mayor.
Cr Murray edged out sitting councillor Dorothy Vickery in the first preference voting round of the elections but both took a place on council alongside Audrey McArdle, Dean Heagney and Lee Martin and Cr Hietbrink.
At Narrabri, director of corporate services Paul Wearne, who was nominated by the general manager to act as returning officer, said the resolved method of election was an open vote by a show of hands.
“There were two names for the position of mayor – Cr Bolton and Cr Robyn Faber – and the result was nine votes to three in favour of Cr Bolton,” Mr Wearne said.
“Two names also contested the position of deputy mayor – Cr
O’Regan and Cr Cathy Redding. The vote was conducted by a show of hands which resulted in nine votes to three in favour of Cr O’Regan.”