Mark scrapes back in

Mark scrapes back in

Marlo resident, Mark Reeves, has been returned as a councillor following the counting of votes in the East Gippsland Shire Council elections.

Mr Reeves, a long-time councillor and former mayor, narrowly scraped over the line with 1535 votes to secure the ninth position on council.

He will be joined at the council table by seven new faces and immediate past mayor, John White, who too was re- elected taking the seventh chair at the table.

The other seven councillors who made the cut are Kirsten Van Diggele, Sonia Buckley, Mendy Urie, Arthur Allen, Trevor Stow, Jane Greacen and Tom Crook.

Ms Van Diggele, who is the youngest councillor ever elected to the East Gippsland Shire, is just 25 years old and polled the most votes to easily take the first seat with 3337 votes.
Mendy Urie was the second popularly elected councillor with 3041 votes.

Ms Urie was a previous East Gippsland Shire councillor, being elected in 2005, and held the mayoral position for two years (2006-2009).

Sonia Buckley is the daughter of veteran councillor and outgoing deputy mayor, Ben Buckley.

Ms Buckley, who directed a short documentary about saving the High Country brumbies, lives in Benambra and will have a good mentor in her father, who was active in council for over four decades.

She won 2598 votes to comfortably fall into third position.

With the distribution of preferences, 42-year-old Eagle Point resident, Tom Crook, managed to push out sitting councillor, Dick Ellis, to claim the eighth spot.

Mr Crook, who fell just outside the margin on primary votes needed to secure a seat, was catapulted from 10th to eighth spot once preferences were allocated.

“I’m a bit surprised,” Mr Crook, a conservation land manager, told the Snowy River Mail when informed of his victory.

He later took to Twitter to announce his success tweeting: “Looks like I just got elected to the East Gippsland Shire Council! Thanks everybody for your support. Lots to do.” In all 34,188 registered voters returned their ballot papers in the elections, with 3006 being declared informal.

Speaking to the Snowy River Mail after the count, Mr Stow, of Bairnsdale, said he was delighted to be elected and grateful to those who had voted for him.

Cr Stow was the fifth councillor elected on 2118 votes, behind Arthur Allen who took 2555 of the count.

“It will be an exciting time for the new council and I’m looking forward to it,” Mr Stow said.

Mr Allen, of Lakes Entrance, said he was “relieved” the counting was over and looked forward to working with the new council team.

Dr Greacen said she was “very excited”, even though it had been “a bit nerve wracking” as the votes were slowly tallied over a couple of weeks. While she was in seventh position with a primary vote of 1579, once preferences were allocated, Dr Greacen took the sixth seat in the council chamber. Mr White remains hopeful of receiving another term as mayor in order to complete unfinished business. He said it would be up to the new council to decide.

Ms Urie said she was “very pleased and excited” to be elected.

“I’ve a good feeling we’ll be a positive team,” she said.

Three former councillors in the 2012- 2016 East Gippsland Shire Council, Jane Rowe, Peter Neal and Jeff McNeil, were unsuccessful in their attempts to regain a seat on council, although both Ms Rowe and Mr Neal each received well over a 1000 votes each.

East Gippsland Shire chief executive officer, Anthony Basford, said he looked forward to working with the new council over the next four years.

“We’ve doubled our female representation from two to four, so there’s a good gender mix and the age differences reflect our community,” he said.

“So we’ve got some enthusiastic new talent and some good experience as well.”

“Our team is very much looking forward to working with the new council who play a critical role in supporting our community.”

A statutory meeting of the council will take place next Tuesday, November 17 to elect the mayor.

Mr Basford said it was up to council to decide if they also wanted to elect a deputy mayor.

IMAGE: The new East Gippsland Shire Council was announced on Monday. Pictured are three of the four women elected, Janbe Greacen, Kirsten Van Diggele and Mendy Urie.