MANDURAH sent a message on Saturday night – one that new, young blood was needed.
Mayor elect Rhys Williams, at 29 is the youngest mayor in the history of Mandurah and he’ll be leading a young team.
The average age of all councillors in Mandurah is 48.
There are four people under the age of 35 serving on council – Tahlia Jones is 32, newly elected Matt Rogers 25 and Peter Rogers 28.
Mr Williams was dismissive of criticism of his youth.
“That discussion about age is as relevant as when we were talking about whether women could lead 20 years ago,” he said.
“Or 20 years before that when we were talking about whether people of different races could lead, it’s great to see society is evolving.”
While Mandurah voted overwhelmingly in Mr Williams favour, he beat out former Mayor Marina Vergone by 3502 votes (receiving more than 50 per cent of the vote), he had nothing but praise for his predecessor.
“I want to honour Ms Vergone for four great years as mayor,” he said.
“I think it takes a lot to give up four years of your life to do what she’s done and she should be proud.”
Mr Williams campaign followed the playbook of “when they go low, we go high”.
While others spent their time muckraking and demeaning other candidates, Mr Williams aimed to stay positive.
“I know there was other stuff going on but I’m proud of the fact we didn’t get into that,” Mr Williams said.
“I’m really proud of the fact my campaign was about positivity and ideas.
“Elections are tough and overwhelmingly in my experience there was more positivity than negativity.
“I think there were nasty elements to it, but overall this was a campaign of ideas, we have to focus on that and acknowledge that.”
He said he is excited to meet Mandurah’s councillors new and old.
“A leader is only as good as their team,” he said.
“First of all, it’s about pulling that team together and really looking at the policy reforms we can roll out.”
Mr Williams pledged to help reduce Mandurah’s crime rate during his campaign.
“I think we have to start fighting crime in our suburbs,” he said.
“I’d like to roll out a new version of Neighbourhood Watch, that really looks at giving people a chance to feel safe in their homes again, because people deserve to feel safe in their homes.”
He said he was proud of how many votes were returned this election.
“Mandurah had one of the highest returns for local government,” he said.
“That proves our community is engaged and they want to be involved in strengthening the communities.”
Four years ago, Mr Williams left Mandurah council after losing the Mayoral election by two votes following a recount.
“Four years of being away from council has brought me a new perspective on the role of local government,” he said.
“The four years in council and the four years away from it, puts me into a position of being able to look at how we can do things differently, in a way that strengthens the community, rather than following the business model gone by, where it’s more about providing a service.”