It was standing room only on Wednesday’s extraordinary Council Meeting convened to elect the Mayor and Deputy Mayor positions for the coming terms.
The poll’s had seen 9 councillors elected, with crowd favourite Maree Statham ahead by a significant margin when all the votes were counted to elect Councillors.
However, we were not voting for the leader of Council in the recent election, just the nine people that would form the Council.
Some local government areas do vote for their mayor at the polls, however in Lithgow that task is handled by our elected representatives.
The audience was filled with placards trying to reinforce Councillor Statham’s popularity in the role.
After the swearing in of the new Councillor’s had concluded, new Councillor Stephen Lesslie moved that the former Mayor was best suited to chair the proceedings.
There was no public forum scheduled of the meeting, despite the large attendance numbers. This was challenged by new Councillor Steve Ring, but ultimately defeated so the proceedings moved straight to nominations for the position of Mayor and a vote.
In an act that is yet to be fully understood, Councillor Ray Thompson decided to abstain from the process, leaving the two nominated Councillors, Maree Statham and Stephen Lesslie with 4 votes each, resulting in an unusual tied vote.
Social media has been abuzz with what occurred next however, according to the Local Government Regulation 2005; Schedule 7, Clause 6.2; “If there are only 2 candidates and they are tied, the one elected is to be chosen by lot.” That is the way the process works and was adhered to by the letter.
The winner of that draw was Councillor Stephen Lesslie, who will now be Mayor for an extended 2 year term under new legislation.
The next position of Deputy Mayor was awarded to Councillor Martin Ticehurst unopposed when Councillor Geoff Cox withdrew his nomination in the night’s second twist.
Mayor Lesslie thanked Clr Statham for her contribution to the region and spoke about getting on with the program of getting jobs into the area. He also asked for Councillors to stand when speaking as per the Code of Meeting Practice in a show of trying to return Council to an orderly and functional environment.
The meeting ended with Clr Statham thanking her supporters throughout her time as Mayor.
The Council now has the task of steering the region in the coming four years, and Mayor Lesslie is focussed on what our region needs most, jobs.
New Councillors: Maree Statham, Steve Ring, Cassandra Coleman, new Mayor – Stephen Lesslie, Joe Smith, Geoff Cox and Wayne McAndrew. Not pictured: Ray Thompson & new Deputy Mayor – Martin Ticehurst