URANA Shire’s final mayor Pat Bourke has been voted Federation Council’s first civic leader in a move he hopes will provide some reassurance to the reluctant merger partner.
He won the secret ballot for mayor over former Corowa Shire mayor Paul Miegel after the third candidate in the race, Cr Fred Longmire, dropped out in the 24 hours leading up to the historic vote on Tuesday.
First-term councillor, Shaun Whitechurch from Corowa, was elected deputy mayor over Cr Miegel with a third nomination Cr Gail Law excluded on the initial count of votes.
Cr Bourke will be mayor for two years and Cr Whitechurch has been voted deputy on a one-year term.
His wife Natacha, two teenage sons, Thomas and Jasper, and parents Tom and Anne were among the gallery to watch mayoral election.
Also on hand were former Urana councillors Ian Kreutzberger, Alan Urquhart, Dave Fahey and Denis Smith.
Cr Bourke said his election as mayor should provide residents of the former Urana Shire area with added confidence about playing a meaningful role in the merged entity.
“It gives them a lot more comfort,” he said.
“I think I can help the merger come together. I’ve always said it has to be a focus on the whole Federation Council communities, big or small.”
Cr Bourke downplayed his Urana residence being a impediment to him meeting his mayoral commitments.
He will be provided with a mayoral car.
“If I was too far away to be the mayor we shouldn’t have merged,” he said.
“Everyone has to be relevant in the Federation Council whether you are at Urana, Morundah or wherever.
“The costs are real and part of the council area.”
Cr Whitechurch said he wouldn’t be Corowa-centric in his role as deputy mayor.
“In my campaign I said I would support all the people and that has got to happen,” he said.
One of Cr Bourke’s initial appointments was council’s delegate to the Riverina Water Country Council, which will still distribute water to former Urana Shire towns, Urana, Boree Creek, Morundah, Oaklands and Rand.
He also successfully pushed for himself, Cr Whitechurch, another councillor and general manager Chris Gillard to attend the Local Government NSW annual conference in early December.