It’s anyone’s guess

LATROBE City councillors are remaining tight-lipped about their intentions just days out from the upcoming mayoral election.

The positions of mayor and deputy mayor will be decided at a special meeting on Monday night, which is open to the public.

But only a few of the nine councillors have responded to calls from The Express, with current mayor Dale Harriman doubtful he would return for a second term.

“If I got nominated I would certainly run for the position, (but) I would find it very rare I’d be nominated,” Cr Harriman said.

Although councillors are able to nominate themselves, each nomination must be seconded to be considered for a vote.

Cr Harriman pointed to the record of past Latrobe City mayors, who have not served back-to-back terms since Brendan Jenkins in the years 2001-2002 and 2002-2003.

Coming to the end of his 12-month stint as mayor, Cr Harriman said he believed council had made “some really positive steps” towards job creation in Latrobe Valley.

“We have had a couple of in-confidence businesses looking at the area; we are very keen to land those positions,” he said.

“We are continuing to chase those and are hopeful of some really good outcomes for the region.”

Cr Harriman described working closely with Latrobe Valley’s RSLs throughout their 2015 Anzac centenary services as a significant highlight.

He said he was proud council had covered the cost of road closures and helped upgrade monuments and cenotaphs this year.

“In the 100th year anniversary, I think that was really important and something really important to the community and council as well,” he said.

He also pointed to the recent announcement of an international water-ski event, which will be held at Lake Narracan in March.

“No matter what we do, you always wish you could do more and achieve more,” he said.

And sitting among the top of his wish list is obtaining government funding for the performing arts and convention centres, planned to be built in Traralgon and Morwell, respectively.

Despite splitting the PACC project in two, Cr Harriman said “if we had put in for the performing arts centre and convention centre in one hit, we wouldn’t have got the funding”.

Deputy mayor Peter Gibbons did not wish to comment on the upcoming election, while fellow West Ward councillor Sharon Gibson said she had not yet discussed the matter.

“I have not had a sit-down conversation about who is going to be mayor,” Cr Gibson said.

“I’ve been trying to get buses for the elderly, change rooms for females and all of that kind of thing – that’s what I have been doing.”

Local government elections determined by the public’s vote take place every four years in Victoria, with the next slated for 2016.

The positions of mayor and deputy mayor are elected by sitting councillors every 12 months.

Central Ward councillor Christine Sindt also would not be drawn on whether or not she would stand for the mayor or deputy mayor positions.

But she believes Cr Harriman has done a “wonderful job”.

“I’m really happy with the direction Latrobe City Council is going,” Cr Sindt said.

Crs Gibson and Harriman each reiterated the need for more jobs in the Valley; a primary goal of council.

“To me, whoever gets the job, all I want is for them to be working as hard as they can for the community,” Cr Gibson said.

“Don’t play politics, just do the job for the people you are serving; your community.

“Our community needs all the help it can get, and that’s what I want from whoever the mayor is.”