Veteran councillor likely to end career as mayor

Cr John Letchford

Veteran Macedon Ranges councillors John Letchford and John Connor appear set to take the reins of the municipality in what’s expected to be their last year in local government.

Sources indicate that Cr Letchford is likely to be the only candidate for the top job when this year’s mayoral election is held on Wednesday evening.

Cr Letchford, who served a term as mayor in 2008-09, said that, if successful, he would push for two-time mayor Cr Connor as his deputy.

‘‘We have a number of strategies and plans to get down quickly, in a very tight budget and facing challenges with changes to the Local Government Act and rate capping,’’ Cr Letchford said.

‘‘The state government calls it fair. We’re calling it idiotic, stupid and ridiculous.

‘‘Someone of my ilk and nature has to stand up and be seen to be leading that charge against what is a lack of voice and leadership.’’

Cr Letchford, who is entering his 17th year on council, said he wanted to lead a team that worked together.

‘‘You don’t want this continual division creeping into the council chamber,’’ he said.

Cr Letchford said he was also keen to bring community groups around the table with the council, ‘‘as long as they’re prepared to meet us halfway’’.

Outgoing mayor Jennifer Anderson confirmed she had no plans to seek re-election.

‘‘It’s been a great year, but it’s time for somebody else to have a go,’’ she said.

Current deputy mayor Russell Mowatt, who hasn’t entirely ruled out standing, said it appeared Cr Letchford had the numbers.

‘‘I think Jennifer’s done a fantastic job. She’s very articulate and done very well indeed.’’

‘Pretty impressive’ career

Former mayor Roger Jukes said it would be fitting for Cr Letchford to sit in the chair at the end of a ‘‘pretty impressive’’ local government career.

‘‘He’s very much by the book and runs a very good meeting. His knowledge after 17 years in local government is quite deep. If council gives him the opportunity, it’s a great way to go out.’’

Cr Connor, who will have been on council for 10 years at the end of the current term, said he was keen to serve as deputy mayor.

‘‘We’re going to have to tighten our belt but make sure we get the important stuff done,’’ he said.

‘‘I think that’s where experience will come into play.’’

Wednesday’s special meeting of council will be held at the Gisborne administration centre, starting at 5.30pm.