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21 November 2023
By Abby Walter
Robyn Gulline plans for Horsham Rural City Council to work together for the remainder of the council’s term after she was elected mayor for the fourth time at last week’s statutory meeting.
Cr Gulline was voted in by councillors David Bowe, Claudia Haenel, Bob Redden and herself, after a second vote.
Crs Les Power and Haenel also nominated for mayor.
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In the first vote, Crs Ian Ross, Penny Flynn and Power voted for Cr Power, while Cr Haenel voted for herself.
Cr Haenel was declared the defeated candidate while Crs Power and Gulline were supported by three votes each.
Cr Haenel’s vote was the deciding factor.
A gallery of about 30 people attended the vote and a majority of people left the meeting immediately after Cr Gulline was declared mayor.
Nominees for mayor are given three minutes each to speak to the council before the vote.
A majority of the gallery only clapped following Cr Haenel’s speech.
Cr Gulline is serving her first term on the council after being elected in 2020.
She has lived at Longerenong for 25 years and is a farmer and teacher.
Cr Gulline said she was humbled and honoured to continue in the role, despite initial plans not to nominate.
She said the priority until the 2024 local government elections, in October, was to work together as a councillor group.
“We are a great group, and we can achieve great things, so I’m really excited about the next year. We have so much happening,” Cr Gulline said.
“The seven of us will continue to work for the community, which is what we have all committed to do from day one.
“As long as we keep voting and making decisions for the best interests of the community, we will continue to achieve great things for our city.”
Cr Gulline said highlights of her term on the council to date included completion of Wimmera Riverfront activation projects, progress of new netball courts and a pavilion at Horsham City Oval and endorsement of a multi-precinct sporting development across Horsham.
She said people who did not initially support recent council projects were now on board.
“People who were sceptical about things we were doing are suddenly seeing projects finished, or coming to fruition and are saying, ‘I really like that’. I’m hearing that more and more,” she said.
Cr Gulline said while she did not initially intend to nominate for mayor again, when Cr Flynn did not nominate for the role, other councillors approached her and asked if she would renominate.
“I would be one of the strongest people you would meet,” she said.
“I have been through some pretty tough things. This is different, but you don’t see me down for long.
“We do need to support each other because it is a very difficult and very public role and while there is joy and fulfillment, there is also stress and hard work.”
Cr Gulline said at this time she was planning to be a candidate in the 2024 local government election.
The council voted in favour of not electing a deputy mayor for the 2023-24 term.
Cr Ross moved the motion and said with no deputy mayor, it gave every councillor a chance to be given the responsibility to help Cr Gulline fulfill the role.
The motion was supported six to one, with Cr Redden voting against the change.
Cr Flynn was deputy mayor in the 2022-23 term.
MAYOR’S FULL ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
Thank you Councillors for bestowing upon me the honour to serve you and our community as your Mayor for a fourth term.
I would like to thank you, the Council staff and the community for your support over the past three years, especially Cr Flynn for your incredible support.
Councillors, we can be very proud of our achievements so far this Council term, including upgrades along the riverfront, the new Meeting Place, Nature and Water Play Park, Hamilton Street Pedestrian Bridge, City Oval netball courts, accessible changerooms at the Aquatic Centre, improved facilities for our City and Pipe Bands, upgrades at the Cenotaph, increased spend onrural roads and a decision on the location of the indoor-outdoor multi-sport precincts.
It was a pleasure to welcome the Prime Minister here in June and shine the national spotlight on our beautiful rural city and Nature and Water Play Park.
There is much to be excited about for the coming year too with the City Oval netball courts, changerooms and electronic screen to be completed. Funding is being sought for a wide range of shovel ready projects including the City Oval Pavilion and Wesley Performing Arts Centre.
As this is the last year of this Council term, it is time for community members to start considering standing. Council will be running a community leadership program next year which will be an ideal way for community members to begin learning about the role of Councillors and the intricacies of
Councillors, we will continue to deliver on our commitment to the community by working together for the benefit and betterment of our municipality.