Whittlesea Council last night elected Cr Lawrie Cox as Mayor for the next 12 months and Cr Tom Joseph as his deputy.
Both were elected unopposed and sworn in at a Special Council Meeting on Thursday 1 November.
Cr Cox has been a City of Whittlesea resident for the past 40 years and previously served on the former Whittlesea Shire Council from 1979-1986, including a stint as Shire President from 1982-83. Cr Cox was elected to the City of Whittlesea Council in 2016.
He is passionate about social justice and the rights of minorities and marginalised people as well as serving the community as an international swimming official and referee.
In his acceptance speech, Cr Cox spoke about continuing to advocate to all levels of government for infrastructure improvements, including ongoing road construction.
“We have seen rapid industrial land sales occurring in the City which we must turn into employment opportunities so that our community has a quality lifestyle close to home,” he said.
“Encouraging new employers into the municipality is also a major focus.”
Cr Cox also spoke about ensuring urban renewal takes place in the more established areas of the City of Whittlesea and support for agribusiness.
He spoke about the need for further discussion around reconciliation.
“I have had the privilege of sitting on the reconciliation committee this past year… we should actually educate ourselves more on what has happened in the history, not just rely upon the newspaper or commentary from the fourth estate.
“All I would like to see is engaging in conversation to have an appreciation of the deep seated damage and feelings held. This cannot be solved overnight but we must take steps to have meaningful engagement not tokenism.
“So when we acknowledge the traditional owners I would like to add that I encourage you to engage in a conversation so that we can actually move toward real reconciliation. The current generation cannot change past actions but can create a real community where we are all engaged and celebrating together no matter what your background or where you are from.”
Arriving in Australia as a skilled migrant in 2006, new Deputy Mayor Cr Tom Joseph soon settled in Mernda where is well known for his work in the local community.
He was president of the Mernda and District Residents’ Association and founding president of the Mernda and Doreen Multicultural Association.
“One of my key priority over the next 12 months is to work with my colleagues to create a digital transformation to make it easier for the residents to interact with their council, it is important that our residents are able to use technology to interact with council at their convenience.”
Cr Joseph was first elected as a councillor in October 2017.