Past mayor proves hit for voters at age of 80

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CITY voters in Wangaratta have turned to an 80-year-old former mayor to help lead the council after three years of administration.
Nanjing Night Net

Ken Clarke, who became an octogenarian in July, dominated voting in the City Ward, notching 1950 ballots or 19.79 per cent of the total.

“I did not expect it would be like that,” Mr Clarke said.

“I think it’s a combination of things –I’ve been there before and I’ve been very active in the community for the last 40 years –I think thathad a great bearing on it.”

Mr Clarke wason council from 1981-90 and was mayor in 1985-86 and 1988-89.

Delighted: New Wangaratta councillor Dean Rees said he was humbled to be elected and was surprised at his vote. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

He was reluctant about taking on the job again.

“I will wait and see what my other elected councillors have got to say,” Mr Clarke said.

“If I’m asked I will consider it, but I certainly won’t be chasing it.”

Mr Clarke believes councillors will need to work “their butts off” to get things done.

“We need to get the community to respect us again, that’s going to be the hard thing,” he said.

Mr Clarke will be joined as a Citycouncillor by developer Dean Rees, business operator Ruth Amery (the only woman on council) and hospitality figure Dave Fuller.

Mr Rees said he was interested in vying for mayor, subject to consulting his wife Marni who helps manage their lifestyle retail business.

Big job: After topping the vote in City Ward, Ken Clarke says councillors have a tough job to renew the community’s trust in their elected representatives.

Julian Fidge, the lonemember of Wangaratta’s sacked council to renominate, drew the third highest number of City votesbut Mrs Amery and Mr Fuller outpreferenced him.

“It was the best possible outcome for me; I had a show of support from the community but didn’t quite make the cut-off,” Dr Fidge said.

“I’m happy we’ve set council up for a much more productive, progressive future.”

Dr Fidge said his personality was divisive and voters would have either had him first or last.

No comeback: Julian Fidge failed in his bid to return to Wangaratta Council, but he plans to contest future municipal elections.

“I have a very subterranean charm, people don’t warm to me quickly –I’m not that sort of person,” he said.

“You wouldn’t meet me in the pub and think I’m a great bloke.”

Dr Fidge said he was surprised at the performance ofGreg Mirabella (835) and George Dimopoulos (619), who are aligned with the Liberal and Labor parties respectively.

He suggested it showed voters did not want party politics in council.

In the one-councillor wards the victorswere Harvey Benton (North), Harry Bussell (South) and Mark Currie (Warby).

In Benalla, the successful candidates werePeter Davis,Danny Claridge,Bernie Hearn,Don Firth,Scott Upston,Barbara Alexander and Willie Van Wersch.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.