Cr Banfield has rebuffed suggestions that his successful not to elect a deputy mayor for Goulburn Mulwaree was a "done deal."
The council broke with a long held tradition at its first meeting of the term on Tuesday night in not selecting a 'second in command.'
Cr Banfield proposed the motion, seconded by Cr Jason Shepherd, not to elect a deputy mayor but instead rely on councillors' individual skills to represent the mayor, according to the situation.
The idea split the vote four all, with Crs Bob Kirk, Michael Prevedello and Andy Wood against. Cr Steve Ruddell abstained, equating to an opposing vote. Crs Shepherd, Carol James, Dan Strickland and Andrew Banfield were in favour. Newly elected mayor Peter Walker decided the matter with his casting vote in support.
Cr Banfield told The Post he did not discuss his idea with anyone before the meeting. He became aware of the option not to have a deputy mayor at a councillor briefing session last week. The NSW Local Government Act states that councillors 'may' elect one of their number to the position.
"I then thought 'what has the deputy mayor of the past five years done, or for that matter, the one before that.' Nothing," he said.
"If you elect someone to the position, it restricts your potential to send someone else with a particular skillset to represent the mayor...They deserve an opportunity to attend events and represent the council. They are all very good people."
He cited Carol James' and Dan Strickland's suitability for community events as an example.
Cr Banfield conceded he'd drawn criticism from the community for the move but pointed out it was accepted in a democratic vote.
Councillors were divided on the matter. Cr Prevedello pointed out that the position was considered a forerunner to the mayor's role and allowed that person to develop the necessary skills.
"In that sense there is a need for a deputy mayor," he said.
Cr Andy Wood stressed that the mayor already had the ability to nominate councillors he thought suited for particular tasks and there was no need to abandon the deputy's role.
But Cr Walker's vote sealed the outcome.
After the meeting, Cr Banfield said if it didn't work out, councillors could still elect a deputy mayor at any time.
Crs Carol James and Steve Ruddell had nominated for the role on Tuesday night. However, Cr James withdrew her bid after Cr Kirk lost the mayoral vote.
"I was only running to support Bob," she said.
"...I think the decision not to have a deputy was a wise one considering that we have a lot of new councillors. It will give them experience and an opportunity to see what skills they have. Bob did this in the past when he thought someone was more suited to a task. He shared the role around and I thought that was a good thing.
"Other than that, we could have ended up with someone inexperienced in the role."
Cr Ruddell also agreed with the move, though he had abstained in a vote. He told The Post the decision not to have a deputy wasn't a "ploy" to block anyone.
"It came out of left field. Andrew (Banfield) had mentioned something earlier in the week but I didn't know it would be on the table," he said.
"I was happy to put my hand up but in hindsight it was probably a bit early for me...I'm a bit relieved and it will give me time to get more experience."
Cr Ruddell said he had nominated Cr Walker as mayor but there were no deals that he would win the deputy role in return. He said he was not approached by anyone to run and upon deciding, asked a new councillor to sign his nomination.
Before his election, Cr Ruddell was a regular observer of council meetings from the public gallery. He said his support for Cr Walker was based on past observations, some community input and the now mayor's prior business background as Goulburn Workers Club CEO.
"It was nothing against Bob. I just thought a change of leadership might break things up. It doesn't hurt to do things differently..." he said.
Cr Banfield was the only former councillor to support Cr Walker's tilt at the top job. He said he hadn't totally made his mind up before the meeting.
"I told Bob I would back Peter but if Bob had a better argument than he received the most votes (in the recent council poll), then I might have been persuaded," he said.
"He was already prominent in people's eyes. Nothing on the previous council was achieved because Bob was mayor, but collectively by the council. We worked extremely well together. We still can, but people will have different views on how that can be achieved. This is an opportunity to have a different outlook."
Jennie Gordon was one of about 20 people in the public gallery watching proceedings. She told The Post the decision not to have a deputy was a major change.
"The deputy mayor is a succession training position and this was mentioned by the elected mayor, Peter Walker, in his speech when he acknowledged the 'tutelage' he had received in the position," she said.
"It was valuable to note that Cr Banfield proposed to have any one of the councillors attend any identified activity which would normally be the responsibility or duty of the deputy mayor, dependent on the skill sets required.
"Taking a workforce planning approach to that suggestion, does this mean that each councillor is now required to provide a full list of the skill sets they have brought to the position, along with evidence and references to say that they use those skills successfully?
"While many of the councillors are new, I recall that Cr Prevedello has previously served a three-year term on (Goulburn City) council and that Crs Kirk, James and Banfield are all very experienced and would have the capacity, as independent representatives, to serve the community well as the deputy mayor for the current term."
Self-described 'armchair' council watcher, Barry McDonald, said he didn't have a problem with the decision not to have a deputy mayor.
Section 231 of the Local Government Act gave this option.
"The deputy position automatically entitles the holder to act as mayor should the elected mayor become unavailable or incapacitated but s234(4) of the Act provides for the remaining councillors to appoint a deputy if needed to fulfil the position to represent the council," he said.
"I expect all our councillors will be sensible enough to carry out their roles representing the council as needed, should the mayor not be available."
Mr McDonald also agreed with another decision on Tuesday. Councillors decided not to hold a by-election if a casual vacancy occurred in the next 18 months. Instead, the 10th placed person at the December 4 poll would be elected, thereby avoiding an estimated $180,000 by-election.
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