It’s official: Michael Kerr Shire’s new mayor


It may have taken just under two weeks, but it was worth the wait for Michael Kerr who has been officially declared the in-coming mayor of the Douglas Shire by the Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ).

Kerr succeeds Julia Leu, who was the inaugural mayor following de-amalgamation from Cairns Regional Council in 2014 and was re-elected in 2016.

In the vote count, Kerr garnered 3365 (54.93%) and Leu 2761 (45.07%), a difference of 604 votes.

- McKeown ready to go as councillor position looks set
- Kerr’s ascent “once in a generation”
- Lisa Scomazzon eager to get down to business and get Shire through coronavirus
- Douglas Shire decides

The result is in line with opinion polls which were run in the build up to the election on March 28. In Newsport’s poll on March 6, which drew 354 people, Kerr received 68% and Leu 32% of the vote.

See Newsport's opinion pre-poll below:

POLL | Which mayoral candidate would get your vote if today was election day? See where Newsport readers stand with...

Posted by Newsport Daily on Thursday, 5 March 2020

Responding to the result and stating that he is ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work, Kerr said he is acutely aware of the difficult period ahead guiding the shire through the COVID-19 crisis.

And in graciously accepting the support and backing of the electorate, Kerr has thanked and acknowledged outgoing mayor Leu, saying: “In my time as a councillor, I always observed Julia Leu as a dedicated and hardworking mayor, and I wish her the very best for the future.”

With the all-encompassing shadow of COVID-19 hanging over both the election campaign and his win, Kerr knows what he is up against.

“I’m eager to see what council’s position will be through such trying times. It’s important that we are effective in our decisions, placing Douglas in the best place to see through this epidemic and be strong on the other side. 

“Working with our CEO and council staff, and the two returned councillors and two newly elected councillors, both well-respected local business owners, I have faith that as a team with our brave community we can rise to the challenge,” he said.

He said, in the short-term, he has commenced discussions with the CEO and intends to get councillors on board as quickly as possible.

“We will start by going over our budget to ensure it’s formulated to best assist our community during and after this pandemic and then by investigating ways to get our economy back on its feet, positioning the shire for a brighter future once the threat of COVID-19 passes.

“Importantly, I’m determined for council to act in an informed way that has purpose, achieves our goals and benefits the community where most required.”

Kerr is also promising that Council will adopt a proactive approach and whatever decisions are made or actions taken, it will be in the best interests of everyone in the shire.

He said he is confident that he and the elected councillors will work together. “There have been occasions where we have disagreed with each other on issues – there was opposition to the location of Paws and Claws and I was the lone councillor to oppose the carbon credits. But we are all adults and I can see no reason why we cannot work together.”

Douglas Shire residents can expect significant changes to how Council operates and Kerr said that he would be constantly “talking” to the people in an open and transparent way.

“I intend to let people know what we are doing and this is part of the proactive approach I’ll be taking,” he said.

But he conceded that few would argue the daunting task that lies ahead in the face of Covid-19.
“This is not the best time, but we will weather the storm and manage our way through the process as best we can,” he said.

He has had discussions with the Federal Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, about the recently formed task force he is part of with Minister Michael Healy and soon to be re-elected Cairns mayor Bob Manning.

And Mayor Kerr is keen to ensure Douglas isn’t forgotten. “Warren and I had a constructive talk and I look forward to more discussions.

“I will also reach out to State Member for Cook Cynthia Lui so that all three levels of government are working together on how Douglas can access assistance over the months ahead when and if needed.”

With a winning margin of 10% and turn-out up by 4.5%, Kerr thanked voters for believing in his vision.

“I’ve had amazing support and this has made me even more determined to be a unifying mayor, honouring those who voted for me and doing everything I can to connect with those who I did not.”

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