Allan McGrath has been elected the new Mayor of the Yass Valley with Jasmin Jones to be the Deputy.
Mr McGrath, who has served two terms on the Yass council, spent more than 20 years on the former Queanbeyan, now Palerang council as councillor and deputy mayor.
In the Yass mayoral contest, he won five of the nine votes needed to secure the top job, defeating Kim Turner who also nominated for the position.
He replaces Rowena Abbey, the first female Mayor of Yass, who retired at the December election after serving on the council for more than 13 years.
Mr McGrath received the highest number of votes in the local government election for Yass Valley, with 1040 or 11 per cent of the total enrolment of 12,489.
Ms Jones secured five of the nine votes to become Deputy Mayor, beating Cayla Pothan and Mr Turner who also nominated. It will be Ms Jones’ third term on council. She received 820 votes in the election, or 8.7 per cent.
Mr McGrath pitched his election campaign on issues ranging from the environment to employment and infrastructure.
“I want to see a cleaner, greener and more prosperous Yass Valley with well maintained roads and better services, more employment opportunities and a greater diversity of dwelling types and sizes to meet the needs of the growing community,” he said.
The new-look Yass Valley Council, which was sworn in at its first meeting on Wednesday, 12 January, is Allan McGrath, Jasmin Jones, Adrian Cameron, Cayla Pothan, Cecil Burgess, Jim Abbey, Kim Turner, Kristin Butler and Mike Reid.
Mr McGrath congratulated his colleagues on their election, saying he was confident “this council was going to be a very good council”.
“While I see the role of mayor as the first among equals, I believe everyone has a role to play and everyone is inside the tent. No captain can win a game without his team.”
Mr McGrath told the new Council there could well have been an omen that he was going to secure the town’s top job, the day before the vote.
He had wanted to get his hair cut on Tuesday morning so he contacted the local barber but couldn’t get in. But Yass being Yass, he said, where everyone helps everyone else, the barber opened his shop half an hour early so Mr McGrath could “look presentable and get a tidy-up” prior to the vote.
Mr McGrath was a familiar face for 11 years in the main street of Yass where he ran Kidz Blitz, a children’s toy and gift store, with his wife Victoria. The shop closed in 2017, bur Mr McGrath said it was a excellent grounding for his local government career, saying it helped make him “the most accessible councillor in Yass Valley at the time”.
“When we had our little shop down in Comur Street we had almost as many people coming in to complain about their roads and potholes than we had customers. But there was an advantage to that though. I talked most of them into buying something while they were in there. It helped put food on the table.”
Mr McGrath has lived in Yass since 1998 and has been an active member of the business and local government communities as well as charitable groups like the Men’s Shed.
He said he looked forward to helping steer Yass into its next phase, highlighting the Barton Highway duplication and the restoration of the old Crago mill site in the town centre as two of the most challenging and exciting projects ahead.