‘Challenging’ but ‘fun’ first 100 days

Milestone . . . One hundred days on from the local elections as of Monday, Gore District mayor Ben Bell is grateful for the community support he has received. PHOTO: MICHAEL CURREEN

Despite a challenging start to his political career, the country’s youngest mayor says ‘‘it’s been a fun ride’’.

Gore Mayor Ben Bell was first left in limbo after the mayoral election was deemed too close to call on October 8 last year.

Only after special votes were counted and a potential recount was ruled out could the 23-year-old finally be sworn in on November 9.

‘‘I feel like I have been in [office] a much shorter time, but also [a] really long time at the same time,’’ he said.

‘‘The massive media flow when I first got in made things a whole lot more challenging.

‘‘But fantastic exposure for Gore at the end of the day.’’

Mr Bell also faced challenges around his own table when he failed to get his fellow councillors to support his bid for a personal assistant, and later when seven councillors opposed his choice of deputy mayor before it was unanimously agreed that Cr Keith Hovell would take upthe role instead.

‘‘It’s been a learning experience for me, coming from business into politics, that there issupport around me.

‘‘There’s 12 of us and I’m not doing this by myself.’’

It was one of the many things he had learned during his short time as mayor so far.

‘‘One key takeaway is just understanding how many different topics the mayor has to be over.’’

It was not a nine-to-five job either.

‘‘I think going in, you know it’s going to be a 24/7 role, but the reality of that is quite different.

‘‘You’re basically always on call.’’

He was surprised with his role’s level of involvement with issues beyond the Gore district.

‘‘Even for quite a relatively small district, we have quite a bit of influence on some of those more regional and also national level issues.

‘‘The other thing that you don’t realise outside of the job is the amount you work with other mayors and other councils around the region and the country.’’

His biggest takeaway, though, was the community support.

‘‘There’s been a massive amount of community support across the board.’’

He was now looking forward to starting work on fulfilling his election promises.

‘‘That’s making a real push in recycling this year, getting a long-term plan for our rural roads and working on our river, as well.’’