THE Derwent Valley’s first female mayor has been sworn in and welcomed to the role by her deputy Jessica Cosgrove.
Last week arts identity Michelle Dracoulis, who surprised many with her win given she was not on Council, gave a resounding speech to mark the historic day.
“I am the first women elected mayor of the Derwent Valley and to that I say the time for founding fathers has passed. It is a time for healing mothers, with foresight,’’ she said.
“I stand here today on the shoulders of giants, both the men who have governed and the women who have supported and informed them.
“It is a truth that we women have always been here – our wombs, our food, our doing of laundry keep the wheels of society spinning.
“It cannot be ignored that we give birth to the world. I have done this. I have brought four of my own children into this world.
“One of them was 24 years ago on this day. I was 19 years old. I knew what it meant to be poor. To be forgotten. To be alone in a world in which too often women pay the price.
“But I thought I was rich – and I was. “Rich in love, and rich in my ability to see the best, even on the darkest days. “And I have had dark days. Days that nearly meant I did not stand before you now.
“There has been great joy. The joy of my marriage. My relationship with my sisters. The joy of seeing my children step out into the world and grow into themselves. The joy of time shared with friends. “And the joy of art. Seeing stories brought to life and ideas shared.
“It is from these places, the places I have been and the road I have travelled to reach this point, this space, this moment – that I reach out my arms to the people of the Valley and to the Valley itself and say – I love you. I value you.
“From the brewers, fermenters and bakers, to the kids who risk their necks speeding past my house on motorised bicycles.
“Ambulance drivers, fire fighters, grounds people and coaches. The teachers, the taxi drivers, the rowers and those that build.
“Our police and volunteers, our tourism operators. “The growers, the cleaners, the health care workers and the brave folk that serve us in retail – you have my heart.
“To the artists and the school kids who lift my spirits, to our elders – who I most humbly respect and defer to – I offer you my service.
“As a leader, a friend, an ally and a problem solver I give myself over to the Valley and its needs.
I hope that you support me in this act of love, and care for yourselves and each other too.
“We are amazing. We have all come from different places in time and experience but together we live a shared truth.
“We are the people of the Derwent Valley and we can do great things together.’’
Mrs Dracoulis will chair her first Council meeting on March 24.