Councillors Kathy Rice and Neil Reilly set to go head-to-head in Kiama mayor vote | Illawarra Mercury

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There may be five fresh faces in the chambers but Kiama Council is set to have an experienced leader at its helm, with two seasoned councillors leading the race for mayor. Independent Neil Reilly is expected to challenge Greens councillor Kath Rice for the town’s top job, which will be decided at the first council meeting of the new term on Tuesday. Both confirmed they had begun canvassing support among fellow councillors but conceded many were keeping their cards close to their chest. “I’ve spoken to a few councillors, but many don’t want to say what they’re going to do,” Cr Rice said. Read more: Sacked Helensburgh miners were not ‘genuine redundancies’: Fair Work Commission When asked what attributes she would bring to the town’s top job, Cr Rice said she had worked hard in her nine years on the council and believed she’d earned the respect of the community. “I feel like I’d be as capable as anyone else in the role,” she said. Meanwhile, Cr Reilly said he believed he had “solid” support. “I’ve been canvassing my colleagues following the election and I’ve got some very good support, not only from the councillors but from the community as well,” he said. “I think the role of mayor needs special skills, and I’ve developed those skills over my years of work, study and being on the council. All but one of the remaining councillors have ruled out standing for the position, including independent and ex-state Labor MP Matt Brown, who was widely expected to nominate. Mark Croxon told the Mercury he was still undecided about whether he would stand. “I am considering my options,” he said. “I will talk to my colleagues, if I have sufficient support, I will nominate.” Only two councillors would publicly reveal how they intended to vote: Greens councillor Jodi Keast will vote for Cr Rice, and independent Warren Steel will vote for Cr Reilly, however indicated he would have voted for Cr Brown if he’d nominated. Meanwhile, the race for deputy mayor is set to be wide open, with several councillors indicating they intended to throw their hat in the ring, including newcomer Imogen Draisma. The Labor representative said while she believed the position of mayor should go to someone with prior council experience, she was in favour of a “fresh face” for the deputy position. “Our goal as a [Labor] team was to see more diversity in our leadership in Kiama, that reflect our community,” she said, noting the previous council had only one female – Cr Rice – and no one under the age of 30. “I think I bring that, as well as a wealth of knowledge of my own community. I’m new, I’m fresh, and I’m ready to put in the hard work.” The Illawarra Mercury newsroom is funded by our readers. You can subscribe to support our journalism here.


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