Bega Valley Shire Council has a new mayor, its third in five months.
Councillor Russell Fitzpatrick was elected to the role at a meeting this week, and he will hold the position until the next council elections in September 2021.
He defeated Councillor Robyn Bain by five votes to three – with Councillor Kristy McBain abstaining – in a ballot during a regular council meeting on the afternoon of Wednesday, 16 September.
Ms McBain relinquished the mayor position earlier this year before successfully contesting the by-election for the federal seat of Eden-Monaro.
Councillor Fitzpatrick has served on Bega Valley Shire Council since 2009 and is the third mayor in the past five months.
Councillor Sharon Tapscott served from early May through until this week but didn’t seek re-election. She indicated she intends to step down from council in the near future to become a full-time carer for her husband, who is suffering from a degenerative disease.
Councillor Liz Seckold was elected to serve as Bega Valley Shire Council Deputy Mayor.
Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Fitzpatrick said council is facing a number of challenges. He added that the shire’s businesses have been hit hard by bushfires and COVID-19, while farmers are coming out of the drought.
“It’s a matter of us working through these things during the next 12 months,” he said.
He also acknowledged council finances are a major concern and that planning issues continue to raise their head.
“I’m looking forward to working with the community,” said Councillor Fitzpatrick.