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By Brendan Rees

Balla Balla Ward’s Councillor Geoff Ablett has donned the mayoral robes for the third time, after being elected as Casey Council’s mayor.
Cr Ablett, who was elected to the mayoralty in 2008 and 2013, said he was humbled to lead “this great city over the next 12 months.”
“It’s such a great team to work with. Any one of our team sitting around the table tonight could be sitting where I am and that’s a really good feeling,” he told his fellow councillors at a special meeting at Bunjil Place on Monday 13 November.
“I would also like to thank the CEO and the officers and all the staff that work so hard to assist us and the residents of Casey. I would also wish to thank the People’s Panel which was an idea of Councillor Aziz, which consists of 54 residents to help us with invaluable feedback.”
Cr Ablett also thanked the “hard-working” residents and volunteers, adding “I really want to recognise them tonight and (for them) to keep doing the goods things they are doing.”
On his priority list was to “create a much larger environmental footprint” and revegetating a large area of bushland near the wetlands in Clyde to attract more wildlife and an opportunity for people to go bushwalking.
Cr Ablett said council would also be advocating for rehabilitation centres for drug non-drug related issues. “We will be having a summit of all mental health providers to develop the best model to assist people so we cut the suicide rate.”
He said Casey would be an advocate for a $1-$3 million project in duplicating the train line from Dandenong and extending it from Cranbourne to Clyde “to cater for the huge number of houses being built and people living out that way.
“We also need better bus services and network improvements of “direct, frequent, and reliable services.”
Cr Ablett said council was in its third year of a rates cap environment and with a commitment to not pursue a rate cap variation for the 2018-’19 year.
“We need the State Government to co-fund or fund more of our infrastructure so we can keep the rates capped in one of the fastest growing municipalities in Australia.”
Elected as deputy mayors for the year were Cr Amanda Stapledon and Cr Wayne Smith.
Outgoing ayor Sam Aziz congratulated Mayor Ablett, describing him as a man of integrity and who “cares deeply about of the welfare and advancement of the interests of his residents.”
“I am very confident Mr Mayor that you will led the City of Casey with great distinction.”

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