Michelle is mayor – Newcomer takes on Valley top job

COUNCIL first-timer Michelle Dracoulis has complete the astonishing feat of being elected to council and the mayoral role in one swoop.

Mrs Dracoulis finished ahead of current councillor Julie Triffett and acting mayor Jessica Cosgrove after preference distribution.

There have been months of build-up, upheaval and change, but finally the Derwent Valley can welcome their new mayor.

Mrs Dracoulois is a mother, an artist and someone who wants to see the Valley embrace what makes it so unique.

It’s been three years since Mrs Dracoulis moved into the Valley.

It was a return to her roots as her family can trace their history back to convicts in the region.

In that time, she has established herself firmly within the community, working with Derwent Valley Arts on the redevelopment of Willow Court into an arts and cultural hub, and forming connections with community that set her on her path to becoming mayor.

“For me, it was seeing how the communication between community and council was being managed and realising it would be good to have someone in there that has made those connections, built those relationships and had people feeling as though they were being listened too,” Mrs Dracoulis said.

Mrs Dracoulis feels there needs to be a greater establishment of connection between council and community, but it is the building of connections within council itself that is one of her first aims.

“I think we can have better consultations with my fellow counsellors, one-on-one and with the admin one-on-one, if there are issues, we are addressing them straightaway and not going around the back and sort of telling other people about it.,” she said.
“I think the answer is just being straightforward with each other.”
“We’ve got some really good minds in that building, and really good hearts in that council, I think we can all work together really well.”

While council may well be the first port-of-call for changes under the new mayor’s tenure, her vision for the Derwent Valley is one of embracing what makes it so different to so many other places in Tasmania.

“We’ve got an amazing population of really, really good people, there are some really strong cultural ties here,” Mrs Dracoulis said.
“Even though we’ve got all of this fabulous movement happening where there are a lot of new people coming into town, I would like to see them come into the culture that already exists, rather than just see that disappear under a wave of new things that don’t recognise the value of connection.”

“The people here are very close, people in this valley have each other’s backs, you know, if something happens, they’re there for each other.”
“If there’s a fire, there’s immediate offers to have animals taken on to peoples farms, if someone’s pet gets out, you know the whole town is out looking for it and making sure it gets home.”
“I don’t know if there’s really many places in the world where that’s the case anymore, and that’s a way of life I want to protect.”

“Some people are worried that I hadn’t spent my entire life here, but I think there’s huge benefit to that, because I can see and think of things that maybe haven’t been done here before.”
“I’ve seen things tried in other places that maybe we haven’t tried here, and I’ve seen ideas that seemed great at the outset fail, they are lessons learnt without making those investments ourselves.”

Mrs Dracoulis will sit as mayor for six months, filling the vacancy left after the resignation of Ben Shaw and was sworn in as new mayor on March 1.