Esperance Shire Council members officially sworn in

The votes are in and it’s official – Esperance Shire Council has some new and returning faces in the mix.

Steve McMullen, Shelley Payne, and Dale Piercey are the three new faces all voted in for the town ward, with Basil Parker holding on to his seat for the rural ward.

Councillor Victoria Brown was re-elected, unopposed, as shire president during the special council meeting on Monday, as was Natalie Bowman for deputy president.

Ms Payne made a last minute deputy president nomination for Ron Padgurskis, who declined, before nominating herself.

Ms Payne said the council needed diversity in the the top roles, as Ms Brown and Ms Bowman were both representing the rural ward.

Ms Bowman said regardless of ward, both the president and the deputy represented the interests of shire as a whole and their ward did not affect this. 

A secret ballot followed, resulting in Ms Bowman winning six of the nine votes.

Ms Payne was the top scorer for the town ward on 16.16 per cent of votes, followed by Mr McMullen on 15.87 per cent and Ms Piercey with 12.66 per cent.

Mr Parker was re-elected for the rural ward, earning 67.54 percent as one of two candidates.

Voter turnout for the town ward was 45.05 per cent, with 54.66 for the rural ward.

The last election in 2015 saw a 34.77 per cent participation rate for the town ward and 39.65 per cent for rural.

In 2013 it was 32.63 per cent for the town ward, and Mr Parker was elected unapposed in rural.

Shire chief executive officer Matthew Scott said it was very encouraging to see a high turnout this year.

“This suggests our community is interested in what is happening and wants to ensure what is important to them is represented on Council,” he said.

Mr Scott also weighed in on the swing in gender ratio on council, which sits at five women and four men.

“The Shire of Esperance has had strong representation from women on our Council since 2011, this is something that is not always reflected across the state,” he said.

“I look forward to working with our new team making decisions for the benefit of our community.”

Ms Brown congratulated the three new members and the returning Mr Parker for their election to council.

“Our councillors represent a broad and diverse range of people in our community,” she said.

“I would also like to recognise Beverly Stewart for more than 22 years on council and dedicated service to the community.

“I wish her, Kevin Hall and Paul Griffiths all the best and I know they will continue to be wonderful advocates for the Esperance community.”