UPDATE – 9.30pm
Newly elected Ararat Rural City mayor Gwenda Allgood said she was ‘rapt’ to once again lead council.
Cr Allgood was elected mayor at a special meeting on Tuesday night, with Cr Jo Armstrong elected deputy mayor.
Both candidates stood unopposed.
“It was really unexpected but I’m absolutely delighted that they have decided to give me another chance,” Cr Allgood said.
“I think this is my sixth or seventh time as mayor. I’ll have to go home and check.”
The election of council leaders was followed by verbal submissions on the draft budget.
A number of farmers and residents delivered heavy criticism of the council’s rates strategy, approach to debt levels, community consultation and its response to farmers experiencing financial pressure.
Cr Allgood said the special meeting was a chance to move forward after a period of councillor resignations.
“We have now got two councillors who have been there before, which I think is going to be really interesting,” she said.
“We want to be united to move forward and have decent discussions and come up with the right results as we see it.”
Earlier – 6.30pm
Ararat Rural City Council has elected a new mayor and deputy mayor following a turbulent six months that saw multiple councillors resign.
Gwenda Allgood was elected mayor unopposed after being nominated by Cr Peter Beales.
Cr Allgood had been serving as deputy mayor following Glenda McLean’s resignation as mayor and a councillor in April.
All councillors backed the new leaders at a special meeting at Ararat’s Alexandra Oval Community Centre on Tuesday evening.
The council meeting moved on quickly and without fanfare to hearing submissions on the draft budget.
Cr McLean resigned following intense pressure and national media coverage over her proposal to carry out her duties on a fly-in, fly-out basis from north Queensland.
Cr Fay Hull filled the vacant council seat after a Victorian Electoral Commission countback of votes from the 2016 election.
Cr Jo Armstrong has nominated for preselection to contest the state election as the National Party candidate for an upper house seat in the Western Victoria region.
Should she win the preselection, it would be likely that Cr Armstrong would seek a leave of absence to campaign.