The new Mayor of Dungog Shire Council, Tracy Norman, said the “healthy diversity of opinion” in the new council had one common factor – all councillors want the best for the shire.
The A Ward businesswoman was elected in a 5-3 vote at Tuesday night’s council meeting, defeating the only other nominee, Cr John Connors.
B Ward councillor Digby Rayward was elected Deputy Mayor after a draw from the hat.
The final months of the last term of council were marred by controversy following a merger proposal from Port Stephens Council. The rejection of this offer led to a spate of councillor resignations and the resignation of the General Manager, with Cr Norman one of the four councillors who remained to see out the end of the term.
Cr Norman said she was looking forward to a close collaboration with her fellow councillors in what she described as “an exciting time”.
“We have an amazing group of councillors with a large and varied skillset,” she said.
“We have a wonderful opportunity for council to forge a sustainable path forward.”
Cr Norman acknowledged the results of the poll which was conducted at the local government election.
Fifty two per cent of voters said they did not want to stand alone, 76 per cent said they did not want to begin merger discussions with Maitland City Council and 55% said they would like to begin merger discussions with Port Stephens Council.
“We need to get our house in order first,” she said.
The position for Deputy Mayor was contested by Cr John Connors and Cr Digby Rayward. Cr Glenn Wall withdrew his nomination before the vote.
After a draw from the hat following a 4-all vote, Cr Rayward was elected Deputy Mayor.
(Cr Steve Low has a leave of absence resulting in only eight councillors voting.)
The new council voted to change the monthly meeting schedule to the third Wednesday of each month at 6pm as well as appointing delegates to various organisations and council committees.
Cr Norman had to use her casting vote on a planning matter involving a request to modify conditions on a Clarence Town development consent.