FRANKSTON has a new mayor in town after Cr Michael O’Reilly was voted into the position by councillors at an 8 November statutory meeting.
Cr O’Reilly replaced outgoing mayor Cr Colin Hampton in the top job. Cr Hampton was voted in as deputy mayor at the same meeting.
Cr O’Reilly is currently completing his second term as a North-East Ward councillor, having won elections in 2012 and 2016. This will be his first stint as mayor.
“My recent role as Deputy Mayor allowed me more time to get out into the community, which I really enjoyed. I plan to roll up my sleeves and do the best job I can,” Cr O’Reilly said.
“This year ahead will be an extremely important time for Frankston City, in the lead up to the state election later this month followed by the federal election in 2019.
“As a key marginal seat Frankston has an opportunity to make all sides of politics take notice of the issues and projects that are important to our community. Our Future Frankston campaign has brought to the forefront four projects to meet the needs of our growing region and ensured the community’s voice has been heard.
“There’s no doubt we have secured some fantastic funding commitments to date, however it is my job as Mayor to continue lobbying all levels of government to get the best outcomes for Frankston City. As a council, our collective goal is to see Frankston City recognised as the lifestyle capital of Victoria, and we will not stop until that goal is realised.”
Outgoing mayor Cr Hampton had been in the role for one year. He noted that it had been a “turbulent year” under his leadership, and made mention of how the “behaviour of some of the councillors” had led to the presence of a state government appointed municipal monitor during his term.
“I think the monitor has done a good job, but I don’t think the job she has done is finished,” he said.
“I just hope that into the future, I know the monitor is trying to do this, instead of only having seven councillors around the table prepared to negotiate and talk on the merits of things, that we can get nine of them talking on the merits of the topics that come, and I’m sure that will happen. If it does that will be for Frankston’s benefit.
Cr Hampton thanked his wife Nancye for her support during his mayoral term.
“My wife Nancye is an incredible woman, and I could not have served my community for so many years without her by my side. I am very lucky,” he said.
Crs Michael O’Reilly and Glenn Aitken put their hand up for the mayoral position. Cr Steve Toms voted for Cr Aitken, while the remaining councillors voted for Cr O’Reilly.
Cr Aitken told councillors before the vote that he thought “councillors need to move away from playing games and trading insults. It does nobody any particular good, but certainly achieves a great measure of damage.”
“I have also got concerns about the way the mayoral elections are carried out. I do feel that the process needs to be improved greatly Mr Mayor, and I think half the council feels completely disenfranchised from the other half, and it doesn’t bode well.”
Cr Hampton was elected as deputy mayor of Frankston unopposed.
Cr Sandra Mayer thanked the outgoing mayor at the meeting, telling Cr Hampton she had “always been very fond” of his work.
“You mentored me in your first term as mayor and you put me to work,” she said.
You’ve been like a second dad to me, you’ve worked tremendously hard this year, and one thing I’ve always admired about you is that you are a very good politician. You’ve been in the Labor party for a long time and you know how to lobby for funding.
“I thank you for your strong leadership this year.”
Cr Brian Cunial told Cr Hampton he was like an “older brother” to him.
“I admire that your word is your word. When I was elected I had a couple of people in the community tell me to watch out for Colin Hampton because you can’t trust anything he says. I have never heard so much absolute crap.”
Cr Kris Bolam said that Cr Hampton “had solidified [his] role as an elder statesperson of the city.”
“The energy that you convey towards the role is incredible and I’ve been most impressed. I’ve also been by your passion and your determination, in particular your advocacy regarding the state election,” he said.
Cr Quinn McCormack said “I wish to thank you for your year as the mayor, and in particular single out your advocacy work as being particularly stellar on behalf of the city. At times we must have been at different meetings, because I can say I saw nine out of the nine councillors working on the merits of matters, maybe not all the time, but certainly a lot of the time.”
Cr Toms thanked the mayor for his term and said that his “skill and expertise in lobbying politicians is very high.” He also highlighted a trip to Canberra he took with the mayor during his term.
Cr Lillian O’Connor said Cr Hampton had “set a great example of what a mayor should be.”
Councillors met behind closed doors earlier in the week to decide the mayor and deputy mayor positions prior to the public meeting.