Over the past 20 years, no incumbent mayor has been re-elected to Cardinia Shire Council for back-to-back terms.
History was made on Saturday when the election results were finalised and former mayor Jodie Owen retained her seat on Central Ward with more than 16 per cent of first preference votes.
Ms Owen captured the attention and respect from members of the community early in her year as mayor after her courageous and highly personal speech against family violence at the Together We Can campaign launch.
“A huge thank you to everyone for their support and faith in re-electing me to another four years,“ she said.
“One of the highlights for me was being mayor during the federal election and working with candidates regardless of what political party they represented.
“I am also proud to say that Cardinia Shire has now been recognised by the World Health Organisation as an age-friendly city.”
Ms Owen said the new additions of Michael Schilling and Carol Ryan were a “real win” for Central Ward.
She said that, moving forward, one of her focuses would be to ensure more support for children with autism as the region’s population continued to grow.
Cardinia Shire’s most popular councillor Collin Ross was again re-elected by a landslide vote, receiving 7200 first preference votes; an increase of more than 1500 in comparison to the previous election.
“It’s a real honour. People get to know you after a while and I think I’m trusted as a councillor because I’m true to my word,” Mr Ross said.
“I’ve promised the community I’d support them on rate increases and I’ve honoured that every year on council even though that hasn’t made me popular among my fellow councillors ever.
“I always look to find out what the community wants rather than tell the community what’s good for them.”
Mr Ross said he would advocate for strategies to alleviate the traffic congestion on McGregor Road and Kooweerup Road, and that councils should be looking at installing security cameras and building design to promote community safety.
Central Ward has been graced by two fresh faces: Michael Schilling and Carol Ryan.
Mr Schilling said he felt his successful election campaign came down to extensive face-to-face contact with members of the community.
“I used opportunities to meet with people,” he said.
“I think all of us (Central Ward councillors) are community-minded and share a similar direction. I think we’ll have a good working relationship and will together achieve great things.
“I congratulate Kate who has served on the council for a long time and has been a passionate advocate for the community. It came down to 15 votes between us so it was very slim.”
With his affiliation with the Australian Greens Party, Mr Schilling will focus on social inclusion, disability advocacy and local literacy.
Another newbie Carol Ryan said she was surprised by the election results.
“I was a bit numb to find out that I was voted in. It makes you realise all the people who are behind you,” Ms Ryan said.
“I hope to give seniors a voice and am already working on a project to help interaction between youth and seniors.”
Ms Ryan also planned to advocate for improved roads, footpaths and bus services.
Former Central Ward councillor Kate Lempriere and Port Ward councillor David Young were unsuccessful in being re-elected.
Ms Lempriere wished the new Cardinia council success.
“The innuendo and negative front page article based on hearsay and rumours or disaffected people by the Gazette did all it could to paint a suggested negative picture of me one week out from the election,” she said.
“I have never had or continue to have any intention or interest in creating a negative picture of the CEO or staff because I love Pakenham and Cardinia and have fought to create all that is beneficial for the advancement of a creative, happy life in an environment we are proud to call home.
“I lost and must accept that on the chin.”
David Young thanked residents for their support over the past four years.
“It has been a pleasure getting to know many more of the Port Ward residents during my term. I would wish them all well as the shire undergoes an ever-increasing pace of change,” he said.
“I would also like to congratulate the two successful candidates for Port Ward, Graeme Moore and Ray Brown. I know that they will have the best interests of the ward and of Cardinia Shire at heart.”
Brett Owen, Leticia Wilmot and Graeme Moore also retained their seats, with the addition of Ray Brown and Jeff Springfield representing Port Ward and Ranges Ward respectively.
For more details about Cardinia’s council election results, visit http://www.vec.vic.gov.au/Results/Council2016/CardiniaResult.html.
Originally published at Pakenham Officer News.