Joe Gauci has been chosen as Baw Baw Shire mayor for the third year running, but this time with Danny Goss as deputy.
Image: Cr Gauci (right) with Cr Goss after the election. Photo: author.
The votes for both mayor and deputy were unanimous and unchallenged at Wednesday’s public meeting, but that masked discussions prior to the vote where other councillors expressed interest in the roles.
Baw Baw’s mayor and deputy mayor positions are filled and decided by councillors with no direct public vote. Elections are held every year in November.
“There were other people [who] were interested in the positions, I think that’s fair to say, but in this situation the councillors decided that these were the best two for the role tonight,” Cr Goss told the Baw Baw Citizen after the meeting.
Video: Cr Gauci interviewed by the Baw Baw Citizen after the election. If video does not play, click here.
Cr Gauci has held the position since November 2015, first with Peter Kostos as his deputy, then with Mikaela Power.
“I want to focus on what council wants to achieve as a group,” Cr Gauci said at the meeting.
“My job is to represent [the] councillors and advocate their collective views.”
Cr Gauci said “we have so many things to look forward to” in the next year, naming the completion of the West Gippsland Arts Centre upgrade, the Latrobe Valley’s transition from coal power, and Baw Baw’s increasing population as key concerns.
A consistent face for the council during Latrobe Valley transition negotiations was an important factor in Cr Gauci’s return.
The Baw Baw Citizen asked Cr Gauci if there were any new projects on the horizon, or if it will all just be business as usual.
“Baw Baw Shire is just, every day you wake up and think ‘what the hell is going to happen today?’ It’s a really interesting project,” Cr Gauci said.
“We’ve got so much development going on, and as I said, [we must] keep up with the growth situations; how we’re going to cater for kindergartens, how we’re going to cater for… education, how we’re going to handle the new West Gippsland Hospital – I’m saying the new West Gippsland Hospital because I’m determined that we can push and advocate forward for that.
“We’ve got a lot of areas where, as a council, we’ve got to mature and grow and make sure we’re supplying the assets and infrastructure our community wants, and that’s a day-by-day challenge.”
Cr Gauci firmly stated he would not contest next year’s mayoral election, but said he is enjoying the role. His three-year tenure is the longest this decade at least.
“No. No. Shall I say that again? No, definitely not,” he said when asked if he will run again next year.
“Three years is a fair length of term as it is, but I think it’s one of those situations where it gets in your blood a little bit and I really enjoy doing it.”
Video: Cr Goss interviewed after the election. If video does not play, click here.
So, who will take his spot? It could be Cr Goss, but that remains to be seen:
“It’s not an aspiration that’s in the front of my mind, if I can say that,” he told the Baw Baw Citizen.
“I might have a crack at it, but with all these things it’s up to your fellow councillors, and I’m sure there are other councillors on this council who would like to be mayor as well.
“I don’t see this as a stepping stone to be mayor, but I think… this role would assist my CV at some later stage.”
Cr Goss said he would use the deputy mayor position as “a learning experience to get a bit more knowledge of what’s happening in the organisation”.
You can watch extended versions of the interviews with Cr Gauci and Cr Goss above.