By our Deeds: Reflections on terms in the Mayoral Office
A series of interviews were conducted in 2016 by journalist Andrew Dodd with nine former mayors of the municipality of Stonnington, and the former municipalities of Prahran and Malvern. Those interviewed were John Chandler, Barry Fenton, Chris Gahan, Leonie Hemingway (nee Burke), Ray Lang, Ann Morrow (the first female mayor of Malvern), Anne O’Shea, Melina Sehr and the late Claude Ullin.
The interviews provide an insight into the nature of the tier of government that is most accountable to voters. The experiences of those who sit in the mayoral office is revealed through the stories they tell of the issues that brought them into council, of the torrid times during municipal amalgamation and the many battles lost and won.
John Chandler, OAM
John Chandler was Mayor of the City of Prahran in 1988/89, and Mayor of the City of Stonnington in 1996/97 (Stonnington's first mayor), 2006/07 and 2011/12.
Cr Chandler has been involved with local government for over 30 years. An architect, he has a keen interest in heritage and planning issues. He kick-started a scheme to restore native vegetation along the Yarra River, and established Stonnington’s Save-A-Dog scheme. He was awarded a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in 2014 for service to local government.
Barry Fenton was Mayor of the City of Malvern in 1990/91.
A passionate campaigner on issues surrounding the South Eastern-Mulgrave Arterial Road Link, he was approached by the Mayor of Malvern, Cr Ann Morrow, to join the Council. He served as a Councillor for the City of Malvern (1981/82-1993/94), and witnessed the dissolution of Council and the amalgamation with the City of Prahran to form the City of Stonnington. He was on Stonnington's first Council, serving from 1996/97-1997/98.
Ray Lang was Mayor of the City of Malvern in 1986/87, 1987/88 and 1993/94 (Malvern's last mayor).
He trained as a sign writer, but became interested in local government while working on his children’s school council. A Malvern Councillor when municipal amalgamations were first discussed, he famously rebuked then Premier Jeff Kennett for trying to carve up the former City of Malvern.
Ann Morrow was Mayor of the City of Malvern in 1979/80.
She was very active in the local community, helping to establish the Serrell Street kindergarten in the early 1970s. After attending many Council meetings, she joined Malvern City Council in 1974, and became its first female mayor in 1979.
Melina Sehr was Mayor of the City of Stonnington in 2003/04, 2010/11 and 2014/15.
At the time of this interview Cr Sehr had served three terms as Mayor of Stonnington. She entered local government in response to concerns over a proposed development next door to her family home.
Claude Ullin was Mayor of the City of Malvern in 1992/93, and Mayor of the City of Stonnington in 2000/01, 2007/08, 2008/09 and 2015/16.
At the time of this interview Claude Ullin was serving his last term as Mayor. An art gallery owner and champion of the Arts, he famously fell out with distant cousin Premier Jeff Kennett over the State Government’s debt levy, although he did support Kennett’s scheme to amalgamate local councils. He was awarded a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia for service to the Arts, multiculturalism and local government not long before he passed away in 2017.