IN the end, John Martin’s reputation carried him across the line to become Singleton shire’s first popularly elected mayor.
Political fresh face Kylie Stibbard fell an excrutiating 118 votes short of the mark.
While the 41-year-old mother of two topped the primary count in last Saturday’s election, 334 ahead of Cr Martin, her lead was hauled in as preference votes were distributed.
The Singleton community was almost evenly divided between the new broom and the old dog, but ultimately, the 77-year-old’s 42 years of local government experience proved the deciding factor.
And, as you’d expect, Cr Martin was genuinely grateful to be backed.
“I really appreciate it and would like to thank the community for its support,” he said.
“It’s a big thing to be chosen by the people you live with to be their civic leader for the next four years.
“I’d also like to thank Kylie, and the other candidates, for contesting the position.”
In the same way, Ms Stibbard was gracious in defeat.
“I’m thrilled John has won,” he said.
“The community was looking for someone committed to Singleton whom they could trust and he’s a local who has demonstrated for a long time that he really cares, it’s a good outcome for the shire.
“I’d also like to thank all the people who voted for me and all my election supporters, particularly family, it was an amazing experience from which I’ve learned a lot.”
Cr Martin was initially elected to Singleton Municipal Council in 1965, was part of its amalgamation with Patrick Plains Shire Council in 1976, missed out in 1978, returned in 1983 and has been re-elected ever since.
Cr Martin said he wanted the council to settle down from its Supreme Court code of conduct turmoil of the past few years and intended to help it do so quietly and through an application of common sense.
“The first meeting will be on September 24 and that will be a clean slate,” he said.
“There won’t be major fanfare or a pep talk for anyone, we’ll be attending to the business at hand professionally and with decorum.
“I think everyone will be looking for results through a back to basics, business as usual approach.”
Cr Martin said he wanted to see numerous council jobs completed, like Singleton Heights’ Pioneer Road extension, Broke’s Herbert Street Bridge and Singleton’s central business district strategy.
“We have a good town and we have to ensure it’s an affordable place for everyone to live so that requires short and long-term strategic planning,” he said.
“In the short-term we have to do something about the shire’s waste management, traffic problems and making land available for accommodation and in the longer-term we need to plan for a future after coal, and that planning starts now so that there are alternatives when the time comes.”
Sitting mayor, Sue Moore came third in the mayoral primary count with 1924 votes, Tony McNamara was fourth with 1666, Fred Harvison got 1422, Terry O’Brien attracted 667 and Lee Gallagher brought up the rear with 519.