Kevin Mack was elected Albury mayor in a 5-4 vote on Monday night, indicating he would likely resign from Wodonga police after more than 35 years of service.
Cr Mack won the two-year term thanks to his ticket members, John Stuchbery and Murray King, Labor Cr Darren Cameron and Greens Cr Amanda Cohn, who was elected deputy mayor in another 5-4 vote.
Cr Mack denied offering incumbent Cr Cohn the deputy position for her vote, and said she had mustered support herself, which included that of Cr King, Cr Cameron and Cr Stuchbery, whose votes ousted former deputy mayor David Thurley.
“I thought David did a wonderful job, David didn’t want that support and essentially Amanda was certainly the one I felt (would) best represent the new group,” Cr Mack said.
Cr Cohn is Albury’s youngest deputy mayor in history at 26.
The junior doctor, who also ran as a Greens candidate for Farrer in the federal election, said her appointment “was a huge privilege and a huge opportunity”.
“I feel really honoured to have not only the support of the community as a councillor but the support of my fellow councillors as deputy mayor, and it’s a role that I’ll take really seriously,” she said.
Cr Cohn said she had already made arrangements to now work part-time at Albury Base Hospital to make way for her new role.
“I don’t think you necessarily need experience to be the deputy mayor,” she said.
“I think there is certainly a view from the community that we need some fresh ideas and some fresh perspective.”
She listed environmental sustainability, action on climate change, and the inclusion of diverse groups on the Border as priorities.
Cr Mack agreed with Cr Cohn’s partner and running mate Geoff Hudson’s argument that council ought to be more than “roads, rates and rubbish”, citing the NSW government’s rate of cost-shifting.
“I think it’s 10 per cent at last count, it’s looking at 20 per cent the next three to four years, that’s to offset the money they need to pay the residents so there’s more things that we do as a council than people give us credit for,” he said.
But Cr Mack downplayed the notion that Albury council’s relationship with the NSW Government was damaged after outgoing mayor Henk van de Ven and Albury MLA Greg Aplin had publicly lambasted each other over the level of funding allocated to the city.
“There’s no divide – this is just part and parcel of politics,” Cr Mack said.
“I don’t think friendships need to be tarnished because of aspirational ideas.”
Cr van de Ven had gone into the meeting on Monday night with an intention to remain mayor but Cr Mack thanked him for leaving Albury council “in good shape”.
After the vote, Cr van de Ven shook Cr Mack’s hand and gave him a pat on the back in congratulation.
The new mayor said addressing a soft employment market and retaining the Lavington pool would be priorities.