Brett Owen has been unanimously elected as Cardinia’s new mayor after community favourite Collin Ross withdrew his nomination to prevent “unhealthy divisions” from fostering among councillors.
Earlier this month Cr Ross expressed concerns about the ‘political’ nature of the internal mayoral election process and the alliances formed to “manipulate“ the outcome.
“Council held a meeting on Monday 7 November where any councillor running for mayor had the chance to tell everyone why they should vote for them and there was a chance for Q and A,“ Cr Ross said.
“A lot of councillors, particularly the new ones, were concerned about the process being really divisive. I’ve seen in the past that a lot of the time people take these votes personally and it’s not healthy. It’s a toxic way of electing a mayor.
“I think the community would be more satisfied if their vote counted towards electing the mayor and councillors could focus on the issues at hand rather than lobbying for mayoral votes at the beginning of every year.
“So on Friday morning I did what I thought was the honourable thing by putting the team before myself and announced that I would withdraw my nomination for mayor.”
He said the new councillors had suggested that a secret ballot or the option to abstain from voting would improve the process.
Mayor Brett Owen said he was humbled to have been elected to represent Cardinia Shire for the coming year.
Former mayor Jodie Owen was elected unanimously as his deputy.
“I am very excited about this term of council. We have an energetic group of councillors with a diverse range of experience, and we have already begun working together to discuss our goal and aspirations for this term of council,“ Mr Owen said.
“I am committed to ensuring that our councillors work as a cohesive team, and I will promote active, democratic decision- making.
“Cardinia Shire has many challenges but has many more opportunities. I am excited about this upcoming year and all that we can achieve as a council.”
Mr Owen is a father of two boys – aged five and three – and believes his understanding of issues that affect young families in the area would serve the community well.
He said his background in the police force would also offer the council knowledge about strategies to address community safety issues.
Mr Owen will take 12 months off his police work – with no pay – to fully dedicate himself to the role.
Cr Ross said he had been applauded by the room full of councillors and council staff for making the decision to withdraw his nomination.
“I get along with Brett really well. He’s a good, hard-working councillor,“ Cr Ross said.
“After listening to the concerns of the other councillors, I think that, this way, we will be able to start our council journey for another term as a team.”
Mr Ross said he intended to run again for mayor in the future.
Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.