Joan in charge of the Tweed
THE Tweed Council chambers was abuzz with excitement and surprise when Joan van Lieshout strode unopposed into the job of Tweed mayor yesterday afternoon.
After a heavy few days of deal-making, Tweed's first council since 2005 met to decide on a mayor, and in a shock development, no vote was needed.
It was expected former mayor Warren Polglase may make a run for the position, but this did not eventuate.
Cr van Lieshout, who is the wife of multi-millionaire businessman Peter van Lieshout, had pulled together strong enough support to deter any challengers.
In an indication of where that support came from, Cr van Lieshout then voted with Dot Holdom and Greens councillor Katie Milne in supporting Barry Longland's bid for deputy mayor. The vote helped Cr Longland get the position ahead of Phil Youngblutt and Kevin Skinner.
Cr van Lieshout, a Liberal Party candidate during the election, took the mayoral seat and thanked her colleagues for putting her in the position, saying she took the job with great humility.
She said the new council would move forward in a new direction together and would consider everything that was brought to the table.
After the meeting, councillors said Cr van Lieshout's unopposed election was a surprise.
Cr van Lieshout herself wasn't expecting it.
"But I did want to see Barry Longland as deputy mayor," she said. "It was right to honour the shire; they had voted that way."
She said she was looking forward to working with the other councillors, who she said had a lot of experience in many different fields.
"I believe we will work very well together," Cr van Lieshout said.
She admitted there would be a steep learning curve as mayor, but was looking forward to the challenge.
Cr Longland said he was very pleased to hold the position as deputy mayor.
"It is particularly pleasing for somebody from a minority group to occupy one of those head positions," Cr Longland said.
He said it was recognition of the substantial vote given to himself, Katie Milne and Dot Holdom.
He was surprised there had been no contest for mayor, but that it was good, because it meant everyone was behind Cr van Lieshout.
Cr Milne, by far the most popular candidate in the election said there was great faith Cr van Lieshout would look at both sides of the story. "It was very generous of Joan to support Barry in that position; it is a good sign for the future of the shire that it is not going to be a factional Council," Cr Milne said.
Cr Holdom, first to get up and congratulate Cr Longland, disappeared quickly after the meeting, missing the official photo shoot.
Council meetings for the rest of the year will be held on October 7 and 30, November 13 and December 4 and 18.