Despite his opposition to the merging of the Gundagai and Cootamundra Councils, new mayor Abb McAlister says he is committed to making the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council work, and to working as part of a team.
The former Gundagai mayor made history last Thursday when he was elected as the first mayor of the newly merged Council.
In a secret ballot, he beat out Cootamundra’s Doug Phillips who was the only other nomination for the mayoral position at Council’s extraordinary meeting in Gundagai.
Dennis Palmer was elected deputy mayor, also winning out over Mr Phillips.
“It’s a great privilege for me to be elected as the first mayor of the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council. There’s a lot to be done to make this work, and we will make it work,” Cr McAlister said.
“Over the past 16 months, I’ve been an advocate of a de-merger and I probably will always hold that view, but I wouldn’t have put my hand up to stand forward as a councillor if I wasn’t here for the best interests of the residents and the ratepayers of the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council, if I wasn’t 110 per cent committed to the job that I’m here for.
“I’m here fully committed.
“We’ll see over the next few months where we stand in regards to finances; we need transparency, we need to see where we’re up to with our infrastructure, as well as looking after our residents and ratepayers.
“I might be the mayor, but I’m no different to any other councillor. We can all work together and that’s what we need to do for the betterment of our Council, and I’m sure we can do that as a group.”
Cr McAlister will hold the position for the next two years, with Council voting on the same term for Cr Palmer as deputy.
All nine councillors took their councillor oath before general manager Allen Dwyer, who congratulated the new Council in what he described as an historic occasion for the two communities.
“On behalf of council staff, we look forward to working with you to make sure we serve the needs of the community the best we can,” Mr Dwyer said.
“You certainly have our full support in working for the interests of the community.”
In one of its first resolutions as a new entity, Council voted to hold future monthly meetings on the last Tuesday of every month, commencing at 6pm and alternating between Gundagai and Cootamundra.