By LISA TISDELL
NEW Hastings mayor Rob Drew is committed to continuing projects started by former mayor Wayne Richards.
Elected unopposed to the top job at an extraordinary council meeting late yesterday, Cr Drew has been a councillor since 1999.
He was elected deputy mayor seven months ago and stood in during the mayor's illness and since Cr Richards' death.
Cr Richards lost his fight with lymphoma last week, with the Local Government Act requiring the mayoral vacancy be filled within a fortnight.
The newly-elected mayor admitted yesterday was a fairly hard day.
He said: "It wasn't in my plans to do it (stand as mayor) but it was the situation we found ourselves in. I was more than happy to keep supporting Wayne as mayor."
Cr Drew is confident he can fill the mayoral position until the end of the term. He plans to pull the councillors together as a team going into the March local government election while continuing to work towards projects started by Cr Richards.
"Wayne had started a number of new projects and it will be great to see those continued on," he said.
Those projects include the Koala St playing fields, Mayor's Sporting and Cultural Fund, Performing Arts Centre and regional stadium grandstand.
"As my personal goal, I'd love to see more cohesion between the councillors," Cr Drew said.
Cr Drew, who runs a Wauchope printing business, says juggling the mayoral role and his business would be a balancing act.
"It's always been a balancing act," he said.
Cr Drew's mayoral term will run through until the March Local Government election when the Hastings mayor will be popularly elected for the first time.
Jim Pearson was elected deputy mayor after four councillors stood for the position.
Cr Pearson and Lisa Intemann received three votes each while Noel Campbell and David Mayne were eliminated after receiving one vote each.
In the second round Cr Pearson picked up the two extra votes to be named deputy mayor.
"We need to work as a team and do the very best possible for the last seven months of this council," Cr Pearson said.
"It was a great loss losing Wayne, he was a personal friend to every one of us and we want to carry on the good work this council has done for the community."