Gunnedah shire councillor Ann Luke said a belief in the democratic process and a desire for more women in leadership roles were among her motivations to contest last week’s mayoral elections.

Gunnedah Shire Council staged the elections of mayor and deputy mayor in line with legislative requirements which stipulate mid-term mayoral elections are held.

Incumbents mayor Jamie Chaffey and deputy mayor Rob Hooke were re-elected after both positions were contested by councillor Luke.

Votes were cast by ordinary ballot, also known as secret ballot, and each of the nine Gunnedah councillors voted.

Mayor Chaffey was returned with six votes to Luke’s three. Deputy mayor Hooke was also returned to the position with seven votes to Luke’s two.

Cr Luke commended the role of the mayor and his “commitment” to the Gunnedah community.

“I think the majority of the community like his approach,” she said.

“He’s certainly very committed.”

The councillor nominated for the deputy mayor’s position as she was aware Cr Hooke would not be contesting his seat at the next council election in 12 months’ time.

“I was worried about continuity into the future,” Cr Luke said, but added she also sought both positions in the name of democracy.

“Democracy is at the heart of local government,” she said.

“I wanted there to be a demonstration to the community that there are always options.”

As an advocate of the notion that one should not “complain from the outside”, she urged those critical of council to nominate at next year’s election and be part of change in the community.

The former veterinarian said her role as a councillor offered exposure to many different issues and viewpoints from the community.

“I really enjoy the interactions and discussions with council … the different ideas and issues that are put to you,” she said.

Although Cr Luke would prefer more women on council, she highlighted the strength of gender representation currently on Gunnedah council – the ratio only slightly favouring men 5-4.

She had heard many stories from women councillor colleagues across the state who are less fortunate to experience such gender equality.

Despite Cr Luke’s mayoral contest this month, she would wait and see how events unfold in the next year before signalling her intention to nominate again as a Gunnedah councillor.

Asked if she will run again, Cr Luke said “probably” but warned “a lot can happen in 12 months”.

Of his re-election mayor Chaffey said: “I am honoured to be elected to serve another term as mayor of the Gunnedah shire. I am deeply passionate about leading progress and development of our community and I look forward to working with my fellow councillors and staff over the next 12 months.”

Deputy mayor Rob Hooke said: “I am pleased to be elected for another term as deputy mayor of the Gunnedah Shire and would like to thank my fellow councillors for having faith in me to continue in this position supporting mayor Chaffey.”

Both will now serve the remaining term of council until the local government elections in September 2024.

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