Anderson’s fourth term as mayor ends

Macedon Ranges mayor Jennifer Anderson (Supplied)

By Oliver Lees

Jennifer Anderson’s fourth term as Macedon Ranges council mayor will end tomorrow, as council prepares to elect their next leader for the coming year.

Councillor Anderson was elected for her fourth stint in the chair in November of last year following a unanimous vote from her peers.

Having served on council as a representative from the west ward since 2012, Cr Anderson previously held the leadership position in 2014-15, 2016-17 and 2017-18.

But this year threw up some unique challenges in the region, with COVID-19 restrictions putting strain on council’s support services, and severe weather in June creating a clean-up effort that is still ongoing.

As a practicing doctor, Cr Anderson said she felt her profession had unintentionally prepared her to handle some of the turmoil of the past 12 months.

“It does help you to see that human side, it prepares you and makes it easier when someone rings you about something, you can make sure you’re taking that time to check in to see [if] they’re OK,” she said.

Cr Anderson said for herself and her fellow councillors, the limitations on engaging directly with the community was a source of frustration.

“Normally you get a new council in and they’re keen to get out in the community and learn from people, you know, get up that enthusiasm for the council and how we can all work together,” she said.

“[But] because of all the lockdowns and the restrictions, we haven’t been able to do that.

“The thing is it’d be great if we could have those one-on-one and face-to-face sessions with the community about them.”

Cr Anderson said planning policy remained a constant, but necessary, form of debate at council, as the shire is one only four local governments in the state with a Distinctive Area and Landscape Act.

“The Macedon Ranges is very different to any other area, or even any other peri urban area… because we’re so close to Melbourne, yet we have this amazing, beautiful environment,” she said.

“We want people to live here, we want them to thrive in their businesses, but we need to protect that environment.”

Macedon Ranges council will hold its mayoral election tomorrow morning at 9am.