AN unprecedented third consecutive term as mayor for Margaret O’Rourke could be disrupted by the ambitions of Whipstick councillor Andrea Metcalf.
Cr Metcalf has City of Greater Bendigo councillors on notice that she is considering nominating for roles of mayor and deputy when the role comes up for a vote in about three weeks.
Cr O’Rourke has not counted herself out of nominating for a third term as mayor.
The role of mayor has traditionally been shared around, year on year, between serving councillors but Cr O’Rourke broke the mould last year when she nominated and won a consecutive term.
In what has turned out to be a busy and, at times, challenging year, Cr O’Rourke also served as chair of advocacy organisation Regional Cities Victoria which Bendigo is a member of.
“I have made no decision regarding nominating for the mayor or deputy mayor roles,” Cr O’Rourke said.
“Whoever is elected to whatever roles, they must continue to respond to the issues we face and capitalise on the opportunities available to us.”
Yvonne Wrigglesworth also did not rule out nominating as mayor.
“With two years into my council term, I am reflecting on how I can best continue to serve my community,” she said.
“At this stage, I have not decided if that is best achieved as mayor of continuing as a dedicated councillor.
“I have a genuine passion for the communities of Greater Bendigo, there is lots to still achieve,
“I believe consistency and staying focused will provide the best outcome to the people we represent.”
The field for the positions should be wide open given the councillors all have a minimum of two years’ experience serving on the council.
The only councillors re-elected in 2016 were James Williams and Rod Fyffe, the latter has four terms of experience as mayor, and is never counted out of re-nominating.
Cr Williams is understood not to be interested in contesting this year.
Neither he or Cr Fyffe responded to the Bendigo Weekly’s email.
Cr George Flack ruled himself out.
“I do not intend to stand for either position so that I may continue operating my Flack Advisory business in Eaglehawk,” he said.
“I have yet to decide whom I may support.”
The forthcoming term will also be complicated by two elections, for seats in the Victoria state parliament on November 24, and by May’s expected federal poll.
Jennifer Alden is the only councillor to have an official political affiliation, and is a member of the Greens and votes accordingly.
Cr Alden served this year as the council’s deputy mayor and is a driving force behind Bendigo’s bid to be recognised as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy.
Cr Alden was awarded a scholarship to travel to Italy and gather information designed to win the recognition, and this will be completed this year, giving her time to devote to the mayoral role if she was to stand and be elected.
Cr Matt Emond is considered to have ties with the Labor party and is believed to have nominated for last year’s mayoral role.
Cr Emond and Cr Alden also failed to respond, as did Cr Julie Hoskin.
Cr Metcalf said upcoming elections would not influence her nomination or who she supports if she is not successful.
Cr O’Rourke said regardless of the election, Bendigo residents deserved the best representation from all levels of government.
“I have been proud of the work of council to date in informing all sides of politics about the needs of our community and wider region,” she said.
– Sharon Kemp