Richmond's youthful deputy mayor

ROOKIE councillor Stuart George was elected deputy mayor of Richmond Valley Council at last night's council meeting.

The 37-year-old who has been on the council for just 12 months said he hoped his youthfulness would bring a fresh approach to the role.

“I only hope I can do it as good as Shirley,” Cr George said.

In a close contest standing deputy mayor Cr Shirley Wheatley was defeated by her ticket-mate five votes to four.

Councillors who voted for change were Col Sullivan, Owen Crawford, Barbara Jeffery, Donella Kinnish and Cr George.

Councillors who backed Cr Wheatley were Robert Mustow, Stephen Morrissey, Charlie Cox and Cr Wheatley.

Cr Sullivan had previously speculated about the possibility of Cr George one day filling his boots as mayor.

However, Cr George refused to be drawn on whether this was the first step towards mayoralty. Instead he said he would take things 'step by step'.

“I am doing it for the experience it would offer,” he said.

In any case, Cr George got to feel what it was like to sit in the mayor's chair when Cr Sullivan was required to leave the chamber due to a conflict of interest with one council matter. In such cases the deputy mayor is required to take the mayor's place at the bench.

“It was pretty daunting, especially in my first meeting (as deputy),” Cr George said.

Cr George, who is the son of the NSW Member for Lismore Thomas George, said he was interested in a politically active life.

Cr Wheatley said she was disappointed to have lost the position.

The role of the mayor is popularly elected for a term of four years, while the deputy role is elected by councillors each year.

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