TENSIONS are brewing within Tamworth Regional Council after mayor Col Murray switched allegiances from his deputy of six years, Russell Webb, to newly-elected Helen Tickle.
Cr Webb knew he had a mutli-pronged challenge on his hands going into Tuesday night’s meeting, with Cr Tickle, Mark Rodda and Jim Maxwell on his radar.
The incumbent was beaten by Cr Tickle for the job by five votes to four, in a second round ballot, leaving Cr Webb defeated.
“I had a very good outcome at the election, which I saw as a vote of confidence in my work,” Cr Webb said.
“I’m disappointed I didn’t get the support of my fellow councillors.
“And I’m disappointed to not have the support of the mayor.”
Cr Webb told The Leader he thought he had the numbers to retain his job.
Cr Murray and Cr Webb have held the council’s top jobs since 2010.
“Mutually, we have a lot of respect for each other, but that didn’t come out [on Tuesday] night,” Cr Webb said.
While Cr Webb expressed his displeasure, the former deputy mayor said he was still “very passionate about the Tamworth region”.
“I want to see growth and prosperity in the community and I’ll be working with council to make sure that happens,” he said.
Cr Murray was returned to the top job without a challenge at Tuesday’s meeting.
“I’m very privileged and it is an honour,” he said on his re-election.
Cr Murray didn’t expect any other mayoral candidates on the night but he said there did appear to be some challengers earlier on.
But the mayor refused to comment on his decision to support Cr Tickle over Cr Webb.
“I will say Russell performed admirably and was very hard-working as deputy mayor,” Cr Murray said.
“He did a great job.”
Cr Tickle only secured the slimmest possible majority to beat the former deputy, but mayor Murray doesn’t expect any division within council over the role.
The mayor now holds his position for two years, but Cr Murray would not confirm his next move on council after that period.
“It’s a bit early to say, let’s see what happens,” he said.
“I’ve been on the record that this will be my last term on council, this will take me to 16 years which is long enough.”
Mark Rodda came to the the first council meeting buoyed with confidence after topping the polls at this year’s election.
He received only one vote in the first ballot for deputy mayor - his own.
“Perhaps there is a pecking order mentality, like I haven’t done the time,” he said.
“Maybe they considered me an unacceptable risk because I don’t always toe the line.”
Crs Rodda and Webb find themselves in an unique predicament, respectively securing the most first-preference votes at the election.
“I mentioned this to Russell, between us we secured about 25 per cent of the primary vote,” Cr Rodda said.
The second-term councillor even considered a tilt at mayor following his success at the polls.
“With a full-time job and family, I don’t think I could have devoted the time the community would want,” he said.
“The biggest compliment is when the electors of Tamworth Regional Council say ‘we want you back in’.
“To manage to snare the most primary votes in the election is quite an honour.
“The residents and ratepayers will be the judge and jury of my performance.”
Cr Rodda took to Facebook late on Tuesday night to air his frustrations, and said the “ratepayers were clearly more eager for generational change than perhaps my fellow councillors tonight”.