SAM Hearn was elected mayor of Mornington Peninsula Shire 2019-20 at the Tuesday 13 November council meeting.
His deputy is Cerberus Ward’s Cr Kate Roper.
Cr Hearn, who represents Briars Ward, said that when he was involved in voluntary work through schools and other youth initiatives he “learnt that we live in an incredible place filled with amazing people”.
“However, over the past three years in which I’ve been privileged to be part of the council, it has broadened my understanding of how many people we have who are constantly looking outside of themselves to give, serve and lead for the benefit of everyone in the community.”
Cr Hearn said residents and ratepayers of the peninsula do not exist in a “bubble or silo”.
“We exist as one small place on earth influenced by everything else that happens on our planet,” he said.
“We face key challenges in developing a way of life that is good for us and good for our planet. It’s a time where real courage and visionary leadership is required. These may seem like far bigger issues to talk about than what is merited in our little corner of our nation, let alone the world.”
Cr Hearn said he agreed with sociologist Hugh McKay that the state of the nation begins in local streets. “The economic, social and environmental life of our nation is not driven from Canberra, it’s driven from the way ordinary Australian men, women and children choose to treat each other, choose to think, choose to live,” he said.
“This is why local government matters so much: we have the ability to partner from the ground up and champion communities and ordinary people shaping the future of our nation. In doing so we are not divided by party politics or other agendas, race or religion.
“In local communities on local streets diversity comes together as neighbours and we are excited about that.”
Cr Hearn said he was a “living example” of this diversity after being caught up in the challenge of family breakdown and homelessness 10 years ago.
“After couch surfing for three or four months, people from the wider community, through a local church, stepped in to give me a place to stay both in the short and long term,” he said.
“This is a national challenge that local people stepped in to address for me. It’s because of this experience that I want to use my life and capacity to pay this forward to others and be a person who makes a sacrifice to serve, shows real empathy and compassion, and has a concern for the most vulnerable.
“I want to use my life and my capacity to pay what this community has done for me, so I thank you that I have the opportunity to do that as the mayor.”
A committed Christian, Cr Hearn said he sought to “model what I do in life on the example of Jesus and be a person who makes a sacrifice to serve and show genuine empathy and concern for people who are most vulnerable”.
“That is a personal thing for me, but I hope people see that I want to be a person who is genuine and lives for other people in a genuine way.”
He praised “the amazing group of people who currently serve as your councillors”.
“I have seen them serve with integrity, courage and compassion,” he said. “I’m overwhelmed in their belief in me, that they would give me the honour of serving our community.
“I have also seen that the organisation of council is at its best when we actively partner with our community by listening to them well and working alongside them to champion their potential.
“A strong council can only be built on strong citizenship in the community – and the elections serve to emphasise this central truth of our democracy.
“Thank you to my fellow councillors, my family and, ultimately, the community, for making it possible for me to serve in this role.”
The new mayor congratulated outgoing mayor Cr David Gill for his leadership over the past 12 months.