TUESDAY evening marked the beginning of a new era for Kiama Municipal Council.
The new council met officially for the first time following local government elections earlier this month.
Kiama councillors attended an extraordinary meeting to elect a new mayor and deputy mayor.
As a result, the municipality’s civic leadership roles have a new look.
Re-elected councillor Mark Honey was voted mayor, while fellow returning councillor Kathy Rice was voted deputy mayor.
In a secret ballot based on preferential voting, Cr Honey received five votes, with Crs Neil Reilly and Matt Brown gaining two each.
Previous mayor Brian Petschler didn’t seek re-election at the September 10 poll.
Greens Cr Rice defeated previous deputy Warren Steel and Mark Way.
The initial count was Cr Rice (four votes), Cr Steel (four) and Cr Way (one). Cr Rice was elected with five after preferences.
The NSW Parliament recently passed amendments to the Local Government Act.
As part of the amendments the term of office for a mayor elected by councillors has been increased to two years.
The council also determined the term of the deputy mayor role would be two years.
The ‘Honey/Westhoff Team’ which contested the council elections was led by Jamberoo resident Cr Honey.
Cr Honey topped the list for votes of all candidates with 676.
A fifth generation dairy farmer, Cr Honey said he was “a little humbled and a little daunted by the prospect of what’s coming over the next two years”.
He believed the two-year mayoral tenure enabled those in leadership roles to “start with a plan and work through that plan”.
“If your plan is successful you’re going on next time, you’re not jockeying for position all the time,” he said.
His goals for this council’s four-year term included “to get the planning controls in Kiama under control so that we can keep the character of the town” and preserving town boundaries.
“The Bombo Headland is a pet project of mine,” he said.
“It needs to be tidied up and it can become a real, genuine feature of the town.
“Also a couple of the other projects like the Akuna Street, and hospital site with the redevelopment of Blue Haven were things I wanted to see through.”
Cr Honey’s ticket was endorsed by Mr Petschler.
Cr Honey said he had learnt about “tolerance, and an even-handedness in dealing with people” from his predecessor.
“I think one of the major things that people have got to watch, and very little of that seemed to be done by the councillors was reviewing the financials regularly,” he said.
“In previous councils there seemed to be very little emphasis on questioning the finance throughout the period.
“There seemed to be just a little lack of business acumen among the councillors previously.”
Cr Honey’s father Geoff was a Kiama councillor, and other relatives served on council.
However, Cr Honey believed he was likely the first family member to be mayor.
Cr Rice remains Kiama’s only female councillor.
This will be her first stint as deputy mayor.
“I’ve got a lot of availability, and it’s hard often for the mayor to keep up with a lot of the responsibilities that the mayor is asked to carry out throughout the community,” she said.
“Some of those can be done by the deputy mayor in their place.
“I’m very happy to be engaged in the community as much as I’m required.”
Cr Rice had pondered running for mayor, but believed she “wasn’t going to get very close this time around”.
“I’m really pleased as the only woman on council to now be more prominent on council,” she said.
“Perhaps that will help guide other women in the community to thinking that it is a job that women can do too.”