Next week’s Greater Shepparton mayoral election may be heading for a photo finish between two key contenders, as one councillor has put his support behind the incumbent continuing on for consistency.
While Dinny Adem is yet to formally nominate — and may not decide to until next week — Cr Bruce Giovanetti has pushed for the mayor to continue on in the role as a strategic choice.
Cr Giovanetti said leading up to next year’s state budget and election, it was important for a familiar face to help ensure relationships with Spring St were strong in the interests of the region’s funding asks.
‘‘I think we need to be strategic in how we choose the mayor coming into an election year for the state government,’’ he said.
Cr Giovanetti pointed to a recently endorsed 12-point wishlist document, arguing the region would stand a better chance at funding if the mayor advocating already had fostered connections.
He argued Cr Adem already had fostered contacts at a state level, which would improve the region’s funding chances.
‘‘That’s not to say ... Kim O’Keeffe couldn’t develop those relationships,’’ Cr Giovanetti said.
If Cr Adem were to nominate, Cr Giovanetti would support his re-election, which he said was a strategic decision to benefit Greater Shepparton rather than based on personalities.
Cr Seema Abdullah said she was weighing up the strengths of candidates and that a choice had not been straight forward.
She said any change in leadership would not be drastic, given the capability of candidates.
‘‘At this stage, I am giving myself another couple of days to come to a final decision,’’ she said.
Cr Dennis Patterson has in recent days come out in support of Cr O’Keeffe, as yet the only confirmed nominee, arguing she had impressed in her role as deputy mayor.
Cr Shelley Sutton remained undecided as to who she supported yesterday, while Cr Chris Hazelman has also not yet revealed his preferred mayor.
Cr Fern Summer said she was ‘‘tentatively favouring’’ one councillor, but stopped short of revealing who.
What she was clear on was that the next week’s election would be a close affair.
She understood it had the potential to be determined just prior to, or at next Tuesday’s meeting.
‘‘Every year I’ve been on council it has been a scramble,’’ she said of discussions leading up to the mayoral vote.
In deciding a preferred mayor, Cr Summer said she valued ‘‘vision, passion’’ and those ‘‘in touch with the community’’.
Cr O’Keeffe has previously said she believed it was time for change and that she deserved an opportunity as mayor.
Cr Adem has indicated he is happy to stand again and that he believes he is the best choice for mayor for another year, but has not yet declared.