SECOND TERM: Central Highlands Regional Council Mayor Kerry Hayes.
SECOND TERM: Central Highlands Regional Council Mayor Kerry Hayes.

Kerry Hayes remains Central Highlands mayor

KERRY Hayes will remain mayor of the Central Highlands for the next four years.

Elected unopposed on Saturday, he said the council's mandate had suddenly shifted.

"It's been taken out of my hands," Cr Hayes said. "Health comes before anything else.

"The first priority is responding to the pandemic and the restrictions and implications in our communities for the foreseeable future. That'll be my focus for as long as it takes.

The council still had to perform its regular duties, he said, though there will be extra work ahead now that coronavirus needed to be considered.

He said many of the Central Highlands' industries would need close attention. Tourism would be restricted, logistic problems would beset agriculture, and the resource sector's itinerant workforce would be "significantly hampered".

"Aside from [the pandemic] we have the financial performance of our council and making sure we still have the capability to deliver all the things our communities require," Cr Hayes said.

"Our major industries will be affected and impact the ability of our communities to work and to make a choice to live in regional Australia.

"We have critical financial times ahead of us. It'll take some work."

The majority of people in the Central Highlands voted early this election - fewer than 2800 remained on Saturday to visit polling booths in person.

Cr Hayes said pre-polling would likely become a trend, as it is more convenient for busy citizens.

"There's a trend that people don't line up for the old Saturday vote and sausage sizzle," he said.

"Pre-polling probably suits people's work patterns. Throw in the circumstances of the last four weeks and that's been amplified."

About his uncompetitive tenure, Cr Hayes said it indicated nothing about the performance of his duties.

"I didn't put my name forward not to be opposed," he said. "I'm very grateful and never, ever take this job for granted. I do it because I'm prepared to contribute.

"I'm extremely privileged and honoured to lead this community. I'll always be here to do what I need to do."