Eight new faces on council


TEN of the 11 winners out of 43 candidates in the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council election lined up to have their pictures taken at Peninsula Community Theatre on Friday. Clockwise from back row left are Anthony Marsh, Lisa Dixon, Sarah Race, Steve Holland, Hugh Fraser, David Gill, Kerri McCafferty, Debra Mar, Despi O’Connor and Antonella Celi (Paul Mercurio was absent).

THERE will be eight new faces among Mornington Peninsula’s Shire’s 11 councillors when they are sworn in on Monday 16 November.

Six of the councillors are women, the reverse of the previous council which had six men and five women.

Ten of the councillors elected from 43 candidates in this month’s postal poll attended last Friday’s election declaration ceremony at the Peninsula Community Theatre, Mornington.

With the winning candidates at the theatre separated by a suitable social distance, the chair allocated for Watson Ward winner Paul Mercurio remained vacant.

Other new councillors and their wards are:

Briars: Steve Holland, Despi O’Connor, Anthony Marsh.

Cerberus: Lisa Dixon.

Nepean: Sarah Race, Hugh Fraser.

Red Hill: David Gill.

Seawinds: Antonella Celi, Kerri McCafferty, Debra Mar.

Shire CEO, John Baker said the composition of the new council offered “a broad mix of experience, new perspectives and interests”.

He said it was an exciting and challenging time for the new councillors and staff with one of the “immediate goals” being to help the peninsula’s economy recover after the COVID lockdown.

“We are all looking forward to working with the new council to achieve the best outcomes for the community,” Mr Baker said.

Not mentioned by Mr Baker was the influence of the Peninsula Aero Club (PAC) and the looming showdown between it and the shire early next year at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal over permits at the Tyabb airfield.

WATSON Ward councillor elect Paul Mercurio with one of the “We support Tyabb airfield” posters he helped design in 2019.

Three of the new faces on council – Paul Mercurio, Anthony Marsh and Lisa Dixon – were listed as the PAC’s first choice on its how-to-vote cards.

Several other community-based groups published information about candidates’ policies during the election campaign, but PAC was the only one to recommend how votes should be cast.

Lobbying has already started to decide on who should be the next mayor.

Although it would be unusual to choose a novice councillor, the eight new councillors could easily out vote the returning councillors who would be arguing that they deserved the position because of their previous experience.

David Gill, who was placed at the bottom of PAC’s list for Red Hill, issued a statement on Sunday stressing the need for councillors to “act independently of vested interests, whether they are political or pressure groups”.

“This includes local politicians who must be held accountable and scrutinised to ensure they act in the best interests of our peninsula community,” said Mr Gill, who easily won his ward.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 10 November 2020


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