ORANGE has returned to all-male senior leadership with the election of councillor Sam Romano as deputy mayor on Tuesday night.
Cr Romano said he was humbled to have the support of his colleagues.
“I didn’t expect to win,” he said.
The second-term councillor did not publicly declare his intention to run until the ballot, but said he decided to run the day before.
“At one stage I was going to withdraw, but I decided it was too late and I’d said I was going to run so I did – I thought it might interfere with my electrical contracting, but then I thought I could work around it,” he said.
“I certainly don’t want to let the council down, or the community.”
Cr Romano saw the southern feeder road as the top priority for the next year.
While his competition prioritised the CBD upgrade, Cr Romano said it was a longer-term project.
“We need to open up the south side to residential housing, to take heavy vehicles out of the city and provide access to the hospital,” he said.
There were four candidates during the annual ballot: Cr Romano, incumbent Joanne McRae and councillors Kevin Duffy and Scott Munro.
Cr Munro and Cr Duffy were eliminated in the first two rounds.
The three votes for Cr Duffy proved pivotal, all going to Cr Romano in the final round and he won the ballot seven votes to five.
Cr McRae said she was disappointed to lose the role but she would continue to work hard as a councillor.
“I’m disappointed I wasn’t seen to be doing the job well enough to gain the support of my peers,” she said.
“I would like to think we make decisions in the chamber based on merit, but I have a feeling politics came into it.”
A wave of support for Cr McRae followed on social media.
Julie Proctor said the council had “effectively demoted its most committed and articulate communicator”.
“And in so doing, have returned to the status quo of ‘The Boys’ Club’. The diversity must have been too much to bear,” she said.
Cr McRae said the feedback reinforced “hard work was worth it”.
Mayor Reg Kidd said he voted for Cr McRae.
“I’ll predict now she'll be a mayor,” he said.
He said it was up to all councillors to work as a team.