It could be argued that the City of Moonee Valley was born in 1995, but it was not until three years later that we had a democratically elected Council.
Two hundred people were in the gallery to reminisce as the retiring Mayor, Cr Barry Gough, and his City of Essendon Councillors met for the last time on 9 December 1994.
On 14 December 1994, Mr Roger Hallam, the Minister for Local Government, accepted the Local Government Board’s Final Report on the composition of the City of Moonee Valley. Three Commissioners – Mr Les Crofts (Chairman), Ms Cosima McPhee and Mr Tony Martin (later replaced by Mr Bruce Cameron) were appointed to carry out the administrative duties of the new Council which included all of the former City of Essendon and parts of the Cities of Keilor, Broadmeadows and Melbourne.
The first Council Election to form the Moonee Valley Council took place on 13 March 1997. Cr Eugene Hammer became the first Mayor of Moonee Valley. Over the first twenty-five years of its governance a total of thirty five Councillors have represented the City of Moonee Valley.
It is interesting to note that it took the Municipality of Essendon about 112 years before the election of the first woman councillor. Dorothy Eleanor Fullarton was elected to the Council in a by-election following the death of her husband, Councillor John Andrew (Jack) Fullarton who passed away following a stroke he suffered at a council committee meeting in November 1972. She became Mayor for the 1974-5 year.
A total of 13 women have served on the Moonee Valley Council since it was established (37%) and they have worn the Mayoral Robes eight times in the past ten years. Cr Narelle Sharpe has served 13 years as a Councillor and has been Mayor on three occasions. Cr John Sipek is the longest serving Councillor, having been a representative since 2006.
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Local Government started with the Municipal District of Essendon and Flemington which was proclaimed on 23 December 1861. A public meeting was held at the Moonee Ponds Hotel to elect the first councillors on 25 January 1862.
The early council meetings were held at the Bush Inn and later in the Moonee Ponds Court House, a wooden building at the rear of the Moonee Ponds Hotel. In 1864 the Borough Council built a town hall (pictured) on the corner of Mt Alexander Road and Warrick Street in Ascot Vale which still exists.
The council was renamed the Borough of Essendon and Flemington in 1863 and the Borough of Essendon in 1882 after Flemington and Kensington split from Essendon.
In 1883 the Borough of Essendon purchased the Essendon & Flemington Atheneum which was renamed the Essendon Town Hall and was officially opened on 4 February 1886. It is now the Clocktower Centre and council meetings were held there until 1974 before relocating to the Essendon Civic Centre.
As the district developed, further name changes were the Essendon Town Council in 1890 and the Essendon City Council in 1909.