September 2020 should have been the year we all went to the polls earlier this month to elect a new council for Yass Valley. The chosen nine would then elect a Mayor and Deputy from among themselves as per the process currently in place for the Yass Valley local government elections.

Instead, the state government contentiously postponed this democratic process until 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While some may be scratching their heads that a federal by-election for the Eden-Monaro electorate could be held successfully without similar delay, never-the-less councillors are now serving another year on council and are bound to elect a mayor every two years.

Councillor Rowena Abbey secured a majority vote 6-3 against contender Councillor Kim Turner and Councillor Nathan Furry held on to his position as Deputy Mayor against challenger Councillor Jasmin Jones, another 6-3 result.

All council meetings are broadcast live over Youtube and during yesterday afternoon’s meeting, all councillors applauded the Mayor’s re-election for what will be Councillor Abbey’s ninth year in the leadership position.

Councillors applaud Rowena Abbey's re-election to the position of Mayor at the September 2020 Yass Valley Council meeting yesterday afternoon

Councillors applaud Rowena Abbey’s re-election to the position of Mayor at the September 2020 Yass Valley Council meeting yesterday afternoon

Mayor Abbey said it has been an honour and privilege to serve as Yass Valley Mayor for the past two terms.

“I’m very pleased and proud to be working for this community and to be leading such a supportive, constructive and proactive group of councillors.

“In the next 12 months as Mayor, I hope to see an additional commitment to the Barton Highway; progress on our Civic Precinct and Library redevelopment; upgrade of the Yass Water Treatment Plant; and the opening of the Murrumbateman Pipeline among other projects.”

Deputy Mayor Furry said he looks forward to continuing his “solemn obligation to uphold the standards and expectations of the community.”

Some councils across New South Wales opt for a popularly elected (by the people) mayor, while Yass Valley Council is amongst those councils which choose a leader from amongst the nine. Changing to a popularly elected Mayor requires a catalyst from the council.

Councils may resolve by formal motion to take it to the NSW electoral Commission to conduct a referendum at the next election. If a majority of voters say yes, the next election cycle becomes a popularly elected mayor, so this type of change is a slow process.