North ward councillor Emilia Lisa Sterjova has been elected as Whittlesea’s youngest ever mayor.
Cr Sterjova was elected to the top job on November 7– one day before her 23rd birthday.
South east ward’s Cr Alahna Desiato, 26, was elected deputy mayor.
According to Whittlesea council, Cr Sterjova is the youngest female to have been elected as mayor in Australia.
Cr Sterjova and Cr Desiato were first elected to council in November 2016. Cr Sterjova served as deputy mayor in 2017-18.
In her acceptance speech, Cr Sterjova said she was proud that this was the first time the council has been led by two women in their 20s.
She said she is passionate about providing support to community groups and hearing the voice of young people.
“I hope to inspire other young people to realise that age is not a barrier,” Cr Sterjova said.
“I hope women realise their gender is an asset, not a disadvantage … I want to inspire, to challenge and to create positive change.”
Cr Sterjova, who is studying a Bachelor of Laws and International Relations at La Trobe University, said she plans to host a youth forum, develop sporting facilities in Mernda, and to embrace technology in council operations over the next 12 months.
She used her first meeting as mayor to back a motion to live stream council meetings from February 2020, saying she wanted to be the one to bring live streaming to the council.
Live streaming has been a contentious issue for Whittlesea council, with councillors repeatedly voting against moves to broadcast meetings. The idea was first raised by Cr Sterjova in June 2017.
“At one point, I voted against [live streaming] because our council’s behaviour was quite appalling. Now I am elected mayor, I am ready for that behaviour,” Cr Sterjova said.