THREE former mayors have urged Warrnambool City councillors to bury the hatchet and work together as a team.
Jack Daffy, Frank McCarthy and David Atkinson said they were disappointed friction had started only a day after Sunday’s election results.
The declaration of the poll ceremony on Monday was used by second-termer Cr Peter Hulin to declare that he was sick of conflict but at the same time would not tolerate bullying, harassment and inappropriate behaviour.
This triggered an angry response from outgoing mayor Jacinta Ermacora, who interpreted the remarks as a declaration of war and an indication Cr Hulin would be unwilling to work closely with the new team.
There was also widespread disappointment in the community yesterday, dampening hopes of a new era without bitter infighting that has dogged the past three years.
One influential member of the business community told The Standard Warrnambool’s reputation would suffer if the acrimony continued.
Mr Daffy urged the new council team to focus on the task ahead.
“Accept the decisions of the majority and get on with it,” he said.
“I think it’s unfortunate to see friction already because they all have so much to offer the community.
“They’ve got to forget petty arguments and get on with the business of running the city.
“Over the years on council there have been fierce disagreements among councillors, but they’ve united for the betterment of Warrnambool.”
Mr Atkinson echoed the advice and urged all councillors to work together to progress the city.
According to Mr McCarthy’s interpretation, Cr Hulin was promoting values he would be taking into the council, while Cr Ermacora’s response was juvenile. “She should have stepped over anything that looked sensitive,” Mr McCarthy said.
“I don’t see why the new council can’t work together. It will eventually tease itself out all right.
“There needs to be respect for the chair and all councillors need to listen to what is being said.”
Mr McCarthy saw a deeper problem in having all seven council seats declared vacant every four years.
He suggested adding another two positions and having three councillors up for election every year to retain some continuity and experience.
He planned to send his suggestions to the Municipal Association of Victoria this week.