By Cam Lucadou-Wells and Brendan Rees
Casey councillor Geoff Ablett has put his hand up for his third term as mayor, with a plan to revegetate some of Casey’s lost remnant ecology.
Cr Ablett was expecting to nominate for the election at a council meeting at Bunjil Place on 13 November.
He thought two other councillors may rival him for the job.
“I’m not sure where it all sits at the moment but I’ll be putting my hand up.
“If it’s me, good. But if it’s someone else I’ll be the first person to shake their hand and say well done.
“I’ll support them 100 per cent.”
If successful, Cr Ablett would pursue many of the big-ticket items of the council, such as the Smart City push, more local jobs and engagement with China.
His other pet issues will include mental health, homelessness and restoring some of the large-scale loss of natural environment in Casey.
Just two per cent of Casey’s environment remained from 40 years ago, he said.
There was a need to balance the urgent need for more jobs with maintaining the environment, he said.
Cr Ablett also would lobby for the State Government to pursue a Western Distributor-style partnership with a private consortium to fast-track road upgrades in the South-East.
A double-rail line between Dandenong and Clyde’s growth corridor was also high on Cr Ablett’s agenda.
Meanwhile incumbent mayor Cr Sam Aziz backed Cr Ablett as a “man of tremendous integrity” to take over the helm.
“He is the most active councillor in terms of putting forward ideas and initiatives.
“He would be a fantastic person to continue the stability and teamwork we’ve established in Casey.”
He nominated the turnaround in “culture” at Casey as one of his most significant legacies.
“Eight years ago, Casey was making headlines for all the wrong reasons like councillor infighting.
“We’re now making the headlines for Bunjil Place, we’re making the headlines for planning for a smarter city in the future …
“It’s a great place to be and I’m proud of the contribution I’ve been making.”
He will be presented with a mayoral emeritus certificate for three terms as mayor at the council’s first meeting at Bunjil Place on 9 November.
Cr Aziz has been offered seven leading portfolios under Cr Ablett, including roads and transport, economic development, innovation and Smart Cities, and advocacy for Casey ahead of the 2018 State Election.
“There’s no rest for the wicked,” Cr Aziz said.