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May 14, 2021

Lismore’s new Mayor Vanessa Ekins looks to future

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Lismore Mayor Vanessa Ekins. Photo David Lowe.

Five candidates put their hands up for mayor of Lismore City Council on Tuesday night, with the Greens’ Cr Vanessa Ekins coming out on top.

The vote of councillors was brought on by the departure of former mayor Cr Isaac Smith. Cr Ekins will now be interim mayor until the next council elections in September.

After all five candidates explained their credentials for the role, the first round of voting concluded with one vote for Nancy Casson, three votes for Vanessa Ekins, one vote for Elly Bird, two votes for Neil Marks and one vote for Darlene Cook.

After Cr Cook was eliminated by random selection, the second vote resulted in four votes for Cr Ekins, two for Cr Bird and two for Cr Marks.

After Neil Marks was excluded randomly in the next round, votes stabilised with four recorded for Cr Ekins and two for Cr Bird (Crs Marks and Moorhouse abstained from voting).

As a result, Cr Vanessa Ekins became the new mayor, to the applause of the chamber. Cr Neil Marks will continue as deputy.

Experience needed to face challenges

‘I thank my fellow councillors for their trust and will take the role of mayor seriously,’ said Cr Ekins.

‘This was an unexpected opportunity, but I decided to put my hand up because I believe that after sixteen years on council I have the skills and experience the role demands.

‘There is much work still to be done at council to ensure that we remain financially sustainable and continue to deliver services the community want and expect,’ she said.

‘I would also like to acknowledge former Mayor Isaac Smith for his service to our community over the past twelve years and thank Councillor Neil Marks for his hard work as acting mayor over the last four months.’

Controversial General Manager Shelley Oldham’s contract was terminated during council’s confidential session after the mayoral election, in what Cr Ekins described as a ‘united decision’.

Busy start for new mayor

New mayor and the media. FB photo via Vanessa Ekins.

Mayor Ekins hit the ground running yesterday. She told Echonetdaily her first day in the role was ‘difficult’.

It started with ‘checking in with staff, introducing new interim General Manager Michael Donnelly and facing a thirsty media scrum,’ then ‘a very challenging day after a long night’ with Lismore City Council’s February meeting continuing last night.

Cr Ekins said she was looking forward to settling into the role of mayor. ‘It’s a big responsibility and I will treat it seriously.

‘My contact details are on council’s website and I enjoy engaging with people about local matters, so let me know what’s happening,’ she said.

There is an upcoming day for women interested in getting involved with local government in Lismore on Saturday 6 March, at Lismore City Hall. More information here.

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