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Council election shake-up

Nillumbik shake-up: new faces for Sugarloaf and Mullum Mullum

THE people have voted and Nillumbik’s Sugarloaf Ward and Manningham’s Mullum Mullum Ward have elected new councillors in this year’s council elections.

Only one incumbent will return to Nillumbik council in a boilover election, which was expected given the controversial lead-up surrounding landscape and environmental overlay amendments.

Peter Perkins was the only candidate to land more than 50 per cent of first preference votes but will be seated alongside a near clean sweep of new faces in the Nillumbik chamber.

Jane Ashton emerged victorious from a field of 14 candidates in Sugarloaf while Andrew Conlon was one of three councillors elected in Mullum Mullum, joining re-elected councillors Paul McLeish and Sophy Galbally.

Ashton registered 54 per cent of Sugarloaf’s 5800 voters as the ward witnessed its largest ever number of candidates running for election since it was restructured by the Victorian Electoral Commission in 2008.

Sugarloaf’s new councillor said she was looking forward to the role ahead and working in such a picturesque environment.

“I’m humbled by the support I received and it’s important to thank Ken King for his eight years of service as the previous Sugarloaf councillor,” Ashton said. “This must be one of the most beautiful wards in Victoria and I just love the diversity of the landscape and the wonderful people who live here. I am so excited,” she added.

Ashton also emphasized her commitment to reviewing the C81 and C101 amendments and stressed the importance of working together as a community on issues such as the Warrandyte Bridge.

“The election result was a clear mandate for change, with an overwhelming majority of rural residents voting to reject the controversial C81 and C101. So, obviously the first thing I want to see is these amendments reviewed,” she said.

“I want to reassure people that I do not want to dismantle the Green Wedge, but there was definitely a level of anger and frustration in the community about the ever increasing divide between the reality of living in Nillumbik, particularly around fire mitigation, property management and the micro management and prescriptive attitude of the previous council.

“Good sustainable land management is essential, but you achieve this by working with the community, not by alienating them,” Ashton explained.

“I am looking forward to the bridge widening in Warrandyte being completed as quickly as possible and will in the longer term lobby for a North East Ring road, which would not only reduce traffic congestion in Warrandyte, but also in other areas of Nillumbik.”

Over 23,000 voters took part in Mullum Mullum’s election and with a voter turnout of just under 80 per cent, the contest was considerably close.

Conlon was not only the new face on the Manningham Council block but he also received the most votes in the ward, claiming the highest percentage of votes at 16 per cent.

McLeish and Galbally received 12.95 per cent and 10.34 per cent respectively to remain as councillors. Outgoing councillor, Meg Downie, narrowly missed out with 9.30 per cent.

Conlon said the opportunity to represent Mullum Mullum was exciting and he is eager to start as a councillor.

“It’s a great honour. I hope to serve the people of Mullum Mullum and Manningham as well as I can for the next four years and I’m thoroughly looking forward to it,” he said.

“I’m hoping to ensure Manningham can reduce the risk of bush fire and it will be great working on behalf of the rate payers and residents of Manningham.

Who’s in for Manningham:

Heide Ward: Geoff Gough (returning), Paula Piccinini, Michelle Kleinert (returning). Koonung: Dot Haynes (re- turning), Anna Chen, Mike Za ropoulos. Mullum Mullum: Andrew Conlon, Paul Mc- Leish (returning), Sophy Gal- bally (returning).

Sugarloaf: Jane Ashton. Blue Lake: Grant Brooker. Bunjil: Karen Egan. Edendale: John Dumaresq. Ellis: Peter Per- kins. Swipers Gully: Bruce Ranken. Wingrove: Peter Clark.

Re-elected Cr McLeish said he was delighted to continue working with people in the Mullum Mullum Ward and paid tribute to departing councillor Meg Downie.

“I’m honoured and humbled by the opportunity. Our community has been very generous to re-elect me and consider me a worthy representative on their behalf, I’m looking forward to delivering for them,” he said.

“I’d like to thank Meg Downie for her dedication as a councillor who served her community very well.”

McLeish also singled out Warrandyte’s traffic dilemmas as a key issue that needs addressing.

“I will continue to press the case with the State Government to do the research and understand the nature of the traffic situation in Warrandyte. I’m very keen to see the right planning schemes in place and make sure any development doesn’t overwhelm the character of the area,” he said.

McLeish said the close election in the ward was representative of the many hard working candidates who ran in the election.

“Every organisation needs renewal,” said McLeish. “There’s four new councillors for Manningham and it’s great to see all the candidates who ran are community-minded people who would’ve made a positive impact to Manningham.”

Galbally echoed the sentiments of her Mullum Mullum colleague, pointing out that many of the ward’s candidates are already great contributors to the community.

“People who are willing to give up their time for committees and organisations that benefit the community is a great indication of the standard of candidates that took part in the election,” she said.

The re-elected councillor said she was thrilled to work with an updated council and also highlighted the importance of communication between councillors and residents in Mullum Mullum.

“I’m really grateful to the community and everyone who voted for me. It’s wonderful to have the encouragement to keep going and continuing to represent the community,” Galbally said.

“I expect it to be an even better council now that there’s a few fresh faces. I look forward to working with them all. People need to know that councillors are there for them on the big issues as well as smaller things. It’s important for us to listen to the community to help solve issues both big and small.”