Max Lesser new Mount Alexander Shire councillor after second countback

Max Lesser (left) and Mount Alexander Shire chief executive officer Darren Fuzzard.
Max Lesser (left) and Mount Alexander Shire chief executive officer Darren Fuzzard.

New Mount Alexander Shire Councillor Max Lesser plans to improve public perceptions of the council after a turbulent few months which saw a spate of resignations.

Mr Lesser replaces Robin Taylor who quit in February, claiming the council code of conduct, lack of money spent on capital works and high staff numbers were among the reasons for his departure.

He assumes the role after a the Victorian Electoral Commission conducted a second countback for the position this week.

The first countback, held on March 5, was won by Christopher Cole, who declined the role.

Mr Cole previously declined the position in November, when he was again the successful candidate in a countback to determine a replacement for Tony Bell, another councillor to quit the shire.

Mr Lesser, who signed the oath of office on Thursday, said he plans to provide stability and develop community connections. 

“Ratepayers would like to have more interaction with the council – that’s one of the things I want to try and do,” he said.

“I plan to lift the ambiance, the whole atmosphere of the council, to get a positive outlook and look at the bigger picture.”

Mount Alexander Shire mayor Bronwen Machin said: “We are looking forward to working with Max and it’s great to have all three councillors represented in the Castlemaine Ward, and all seven councillor positions filled.” 

Mr Taylor’s resignation brought the tally of departed councillors to three in four months, after Tony Bell and former mayor Sharon Telford quit in October.

After Mr Cole declined the vacant position this week, it left three remaining eligible candidates in the Castlemaine Ward from the 2016 local government election – Susan Mayfair, Jay Smith and Max Lesser.

There were eight candidates in Castlemaine Ward prior to the 2016 election, two of which – Tony Bell and Robin Taylor – have resigned and two more – Bronwen Machin and Dave Petrusma - are serving councillors 

In multi-councillor wards a countback is held, but the VEC confirmed if there were no remaining eligible candidates a by-election would take place.

The VEC conducted a by-election in the Tarrengower Ward in February to find a replacement for Ms Telford because it was a single-candidate ward. The by-election was won by Stephen Gardner.