Praise as Independent gets civic honour in Lewes

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LOCAL political convention was turned on its head at Lewes Town Council when Independent Ruth O’Keeffe was chosen as Deputy Mayor-elect for 2012-13.

The honour usually goes to a member of the largest party on the council, in this case the Liberal Democrats.

But it was Lib Dem Cllr Ian Eiolart, seconded by party colleague Cllr Petrina Kingham, who proposed Cllr O’Keeffe for the role.

Tribute was paid to her long and devoted service to Lewes and its residents, not only on the Town Council but also at District and County levels. She said: “I was happy to be nominated and felt touched by the kindness of the comments made by my Town Council colleagues in their nomination speeches. It will be an honour to be able to serve Lewes as the Deputy Mayor from next May.”

The current Deputy Mayor, Cllr Michael Chartier, was voted as Mayor-elect for next year. He has served the town as Mayor on three previous occasions.

Cllr O’Keeffe, 49, is a strong supporter of environmental causes. She became a town councillor for Priory Ward in 1999, and was elected to the District Council in 2003 and County Council in 2005.

The local goverment elections in May were a personal triumph for her. She stormed home in the district elections, gathering 2,470 of the votes in Lewes Priory Ward, and set a new record at town level with 2,583 votes.