Ashlee Fitzpatrick wins Wangaratta Council election countback ahead of Greg Mirabella

TEENAGER Ashlee Fitzpatrick ensured at least one female voice remained on Wangaratta Council when she won the countback of votes on Monday to replace the late Ruth Amery.

GO GIRL: Wangaratta Council newcomer Ashlee Fitzpatrick is congratulated on her countback win by grand-father Alan. Picture: MARK JESSER

GO GIRL: Wangaratta Council newcomer Ashlee Fitzpatrick is congratulated on her countback win by grand-father Alan. Picture: MARK JESSER

The 19-year-old edged out Greg Mirabella and George Dimopoulos to claim the spot which has been vacant since early October.

In becoming the youngest person to join Wangaratta Council, one of Ms Fitzpatrick’s first duties will be vote for mayor later this month when 81-year-old incumbent, Ken Clarke, confirmed he would be standing for a second term.

“It was an unfortunate chain of events that had to lead us here,” she said.

“I thank Ruth and her family and offer my condolences to them.

“But thank you Wangaratta and I am overwhelmed by it all.

“I feel really privileged and I’m going to work hard to make sure that more youth are going to put up their hand.

“Wangaratta is what made me the person I am today.”

In the final wash-up, Ms Fitzpatrick finished on 1287 votes ahead of Mr Mirabella on 680.

Former councillor Julian Fidge was the first excluded in the countback even though he narrowly missed out on a return last November.

Ms Fitzpatrick works at Junction Support Services and is a former Wangaratta youth mayor.

One of her present community roles is the presidency of the Wangaratta High School Parents and Friends Association.

Her grand-father Alan was among the onlookers at the countback conducted by the Victorian Electoral Commission.

Ms Fitzpatrick will be one of four city ward councillors.

Cr Clarke said Ms Fitzpatrick would be a welcome addition to council which was returned last year following a period of administration after the 2013 dismissal by the Victorian Government.

“It is pleasing to have a lady back in the council to make sure the men look after themselves,” Cr Clarke said.

“She is very committed to assisting youth in the city.

“There will be a fair sort of induction program for her because being so young she won't have a lot of knowledge about what transpires in local government.

“I really think she will be tutored by some of our other councillors and I think she will have a long term ahead on council.”

Cr Clarke had a previous stint as Wangaratta mayor in the mid-1980s.

“I think the council still needs a little bit more support and I think I can do that for another 12 months and then hand the reins over,” he said.

Cr Clarke said he was expecting at least one challenger for the mayor position.