Kenrick Winchester is the new mayor of the Queanbeyan-Palerang Shire, while Esma Livermore has been elected the deputy mayor after the new council’s first meeting since the December election.
The 11 councillors – nine of whom are sitting for the first time – cast their votes for the two positions last night (12 January), making Winchester the first new mayor in 14 years and the 26th mayor of Queanbeyan.
Former long-standing mayor Tim Overall announced his retirement last year, opening the way for the 38-year-old independent. He received seven votes, beating independent Mareeta Grundy.
“To be given the top job in a region I love is the deepest honour,” Winchester posted to his Facebook profile.
“A big thank you to my beautiful wife Kathy who is, and always has been, my biggest supporter. And to my parents, Karen and Wayne, who always told me I could do anything I dreamed. Bring on 2022 and beyond!”
Winchester has been a councillor for nine years. He was first elected to the Queanbeyan City Council in 2012 before its forced merger with the Palerang Council in 2016. The father of three describes himself as a proud local.
“My family has a long and proud history in our region.”
His father’s grandparents met at a dance in Braidwood and lived for many years in Captains Flat. His mother’s grandparents lived for many years in Bungendore before settling in Queanbeyan. Winchester was born and bred in the border town and attended Queanbeyan High School.
Winchester works as a contract manager for the Federal Government at sgfleet. He is also a councillor of the Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations of New South Wales (P&C Federation).
He announced he would be putting his hand up for the top job earlier this month.
He has previously said that the focus during his term will be getting QPRC’s current financial situation under control.
“I am hoping we can make some major changes, particularly when it comes to the management and maintenance of our roads, as well as the way in which we communicate with the community,” he says.
He says his priorities will be building effective working relationships with all councillors, followed by a “forensic audit” of the council’s services “to ensure they are delivering not only value-for-ratepayer-money but also that they are the services our residents expect”.
“If we are able to identify areas in which savings can be made, all the better.”
Labor’s Livermore is the council’s first Indigenous member and is now deputy mayor. She will hold the role until September 2022, at which point a new deputy mayor will be elected after the council unanimously agreed to hold an election of the position at that time.
The Bigambul woman is also a senior officer at Reconciliation Australia.
The new council was sworn in at the meeting and includes John Preston and Bryce Wilson from Labor, Louis Burton and Jacqueline Ternouth from the Liberals, Katrina Willis from The Greens, as well as the five independents Mareeta Grundy, Steve Taskovski, Edwina Webster and Michele Biscotti.
The council term usually consists of four years, but the next election will be held in 2025 to align it with the pre-COVID schedule.
Tim Overall’s wife Nichole will be standing in the Monaro by-election, caused by the resignation from Parliament of former Nationals Leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro. A date for the by-election is yet to be announced.
Bryce Wilson has announced that he will be seeking Labor preselection for the by-election.