The race for mayor of Moyne Shire has turned into a three way affair, with three Port Fairy men vying to replace councillor Daniel Meade in the job.
Council newcomer Damian Gleeson will face off against the more seasoned Jordan Lockett and former mayor James Purcell to lead the council for 2022.
Cr Meade announced on Thursday he would not be seeking re-election.
"I always planned to do two terms, so it's time to step back," he said.
"I'm really looking forward to working with the new mayor and the rest of the council as we help the community recover."
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Asked what his priority would have been as a third term mayor, Cr Meade said small business should be a big focus for the council.
"We should be using things like the business adaptation grants to help businesses, and get events back on their feet, some of which haven't been on for two years," he said.
When contacted by The Standard, Cr Purcell said he was "not really" putting his hat in the ring.
"I won't be campaigning or asking anyone to vote for me, but if they ask me to do it I am happy to step up," he said.
Other councillors were surprised to hear that.
Cr Ian Smith said Cr Purcell had made an impressive speech to a closed council meeting on Tuesday saying why he was the best person for the job.
"James gave a very strong presentation on Tuesday. I had a candidate I was going to vote for regardless, but when James gave his presentation it made me think again," Cr Smith said.
"Now I'm chewing over the three candidates."
Despite his apparent ambivalence, Cr Purcell suggested he was best placed to get things done as mayor, emphasising his connections in state and federal politics.
"Because I know my way around I think I'd have a better chance (than the other candidates) of getting it done," he said.
Cr Purcell said his top priority would be improving the road network in the shire, "something that's never been done before".
Cr Lockett said if he were elected one of his main ambitions would be to implement the goals in the shire's 2019 Climate Emergency Declaration.
"I think my expertise as a councillor for the last 5 years would be a real advantage as mayor," he said.
"I'd love the honour and privilege of being mayor. It's a big step up in commitment, but that's something I'd embrace."
There will be some ratepayers disappointed to see an all-male field in the mayoral race, but Moyne's lone female councillor Karen Foster said she didn't have the time or experience for the role this year.
She said she would love to be mayor at some point during her four-year council term.
"I'm only a year in, so I still have my L plates on," she said.
Asked whether that meant Cr Gleeson, who is also just a year into his first term on council, was also too green to serve, Cr Foster said "absolutely not".
"All three (candidates) could make a fine mayor," she said.
Cr Gleeson said he felt he had plenty of community experience to compensate for his lack of time on council.
"If I didn't believe I could do the job I would be putting my hand up," he said.
"I'm not a politician and I don't want to be a politician."
As the deputy chair of the Port Fairy & District Community Bank, Cr Gleeson had to clear up conflict of interest concerns with Moyne Shire director of community and corporate services before announcing his candidacy.
He said he had been given the green light to run, and if he were elected he would focus on getting local businesses back on their feet, echoing Cr Meade's priorities.
"I wouldn't be rewriting the book. We've got a four year plan that we've just adopted so I'd be following that. The Koroit streetscape is a priority, but so is the COVID recovery, particularly business recovery," he said.
Cr Gleeson also took the opportunity to pay tribute to the incumbent.
"Whoever follows the current mayor has big shoes to fill because Daniel Meade has done an outstanding job and raised the profile of mayor for the shire," he said.
The vote will take place at the monthly council meeting on Tuesday at the council office in Mortlake and will be livestreamed on Facebook.
Candidates must be formally nominated, or they can nominate themselves. Councillors then vote for their preferred nominee. A candidate must get an outright majority of votes to become mayor.
Cr Jim Doukas, who would have to beam into Tuesday's meeting via Zoom because he refused to get vaccinated, seemed to be leaning toward voting for councillor Purcell. That is, if Cr Purcell ends up getting nominated.
The other councillors were keeping their cards close to their chest.
Cr Foster said she was excited to see the live vote happen in public.
"It is terrific that three people have put their individual visions forward," she said.
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