Councillor Peter Petty has been named the mayor of Tenterfield for the next two years after his name was drawn from a hat, literally.
There was high drama at the extraordinary council meeting on Wednesday morning when the agenda moved from councillors swearing or affirming their commitment to undertake their duties in the best interests of the people of the Tenterfield shire, to voting for who would be mayor.
There were only two nominations: Cr Petty and Cr Don Forbes. Cr Petty said after a ring-around of his fellow councillors to gauge which way they’d vote, he knew it would be a close call. Cr Forbes went in confident he had the numbers, but ultimately a final decision hinged on advice from the legal team at the Office of Local Government.
Cr Greg Sauer was absent due to long-standing travel arrangements, meaning nine votes were collected in a secret ballot from the councillors present. One was incomplete and therefore excluded, leaving the count four-all.
One of the remaining votes had markings in both boxes (one crossed, the other scratched out), and the meeting was recessed while council’s general manager Damien Connor sought advice from the OLG as to whether it was correct to count the vote. He was advised that this was the right course given that the voter’s intention was clearly indicated.
As the count was four-all, as per OLG regulations Mr Connor then proceeded to draw the name of the new mayor from a hat (actually a baseball cap), and the slip of paper bearing Cr Petty’s name was the first one out.
Councillors were then given very clear voting instructions for deputy mayor. Cr Sauer had indicated he was willing to be nominated for the position, and was duly voted in six-three over fellow nominee Brian Murray. (While Cr Sauer was unable to cast a vote while being absent, OLG regulations did allow for him to be voted into a position.) The deputy mayor position is a 12-month appointment.
Yet another vote was required to determine which two councillors out of the three nominated would accompany the mayor representing council on the Local Traffic Committee (Tom Peters and Bronwyn Petrie won over John Martin), giving Mr Connor a good workout as returning officer.