New mayor seeks cohesion

RECONNECTING with community organisations will be among the top priorities for Kiama's new mayor, Brian Petschler, during his coming term.

Cr Petschler said after the new council was brought up to speed, he wanted to replicate the relationship Kiama Council has with South Precinct in Gerringong, with ratepayers and progress associations elsewhere in the municipality.

South Precinct meets monthly to discuss issues and its minutes are passed on.

"At the moment, other organisations don't have the same link with the council," he said.

He also said attracting IT companies to take advantage of the NBN, progressing the Kiama CBD redevelopment and supporting tourist, commercial and rural opportunities would be among the priorities.

"The rural communities are the most critically affected with the milk price war," he said.

Councillors elected the new mayor unopposed last week.

Meanwhile, councillor Warren Steel, who only stood for re-election on September 8, following community requests, was left "dumbfounded" at his election as deputy mayor.

He said his election over fellow nominee Mark Way came after four unsuccessful bids for mayor and eight for deputy in his 17 years as a councillor.

"It's the first time in 12 years a more conservative approach has the numbers on the council," he said.

Cr Way said he and the Greens tried to make the ballot secret in the hope it could take more votes away from Cr Steel, but the vote was carried out with a show of hands.

"It was a fair election as it was," he said.

Despite his earlier intention to stand for mayor, councillor Neil Reilly stayed away from both contests, wanting to avoid any potential conflicts between roles if he was also elected as the Member for Gilmore at next year's federal election.

"As mayor, it's probably wrong to campaign [for Gilmore] at the same time," he said.

Cr Reilly said he would consider a future tilt, but supported Cr Petschler "100 per cent".

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