By CAMERON LUCADOU-WELLS
JIM Memeti was showered with high praise from colleagues upon his election as Greater Dandenong’s mayor for the next 12 months.
Cr Loi Truong was moved to declare Cr Memeti, who had previously served in the role in 2010, as the best mayor he had served under for the past six years.
Even Cr John Kelly broke with his tradition of keeping silence at mayoral elections to pledge his “full support” for Cr Memeti.
During the outpouring of goodwill, Cr Memeti was also described as the “perfect fit” to lead councillors into a landmark year, in which the $62 million municipal building project in Dandenong was due for completion.
“I think it’s really good we’re getting someone who’s multicultural and is a successful businessman who knows what it’s like to build a business from the grass-roots [as mayor],” Cr Sean O’Reilly said.
In response to his colleagues’ good will, Cr Memeti told the Journal he would try to work hard for them.
“They’re all good people and they’re all passionate about the city. We will work together and get the best outcomes for the city.”
He declared the recent acrimony over the council’s probe of Crs Maria Sampey and Peter Brown as “done and dusted”.
Watched by a packed gallery of family and the city’s living treasures and inter-faith network leaders, Cr Memeti told the council he was humbled by the “incredible opportunities” opened to him since settling from Albania 38 years ago.
“My most important role is to respect each and every one of you who make this city a better place”.
He said it was a “lovely twist of fate” that he would open the municipal building project, having backed its initiation as mayor in 2010.
His nominated key projects were the improvements in central Dandenong, including the revamped Afghan Bazaar, upgrades to the George Andrews Pavilion, the Springvale Gateway and Ross Reserve Urban Park projects and lobbying for the removal of the level crossing at Heatherton Road, Noble Park.
He will continue working as a People of Australia Multicultural Ambassador.
Cr Memeti thanked outgoing mayor Angela Long for her “tireless work” attending hundreds of functions and “serving this city well”.
On a reflective note, Cr Roz Blades admitted to a tinge of sadness that Cr Memeti would be the last mayor elected at the Springvale Civic Centre.
The civic centre will possibly be put to new use after the council moves camp to the new municipal building in Dandenong.