A by-election for the ward of Tarrangower will be held following the shock resignation of Mount Alexander Shire Council mayor Sharon Telford on Friday.
While the Midland Express recently reported Ms Telford was the target of criticism following council's decision to not fly the rainbow flag in support of the Yes vote on same-sex marriage, there has been no confirmation the negative attention led to her resignation, one year into a four-year term.
In a letter to the editor Ms Telford stated 'it was time to move on' while thanking the community for the privilege of serving as their representative.
Mount Alexander Shire Council CEO Darren Fuzzard said it was expected councillors would elect a new mayor at the next council meeting.
Council is liaising with the Victorian Electoral Commission regarding a timeframe for the upcoming by-election.
Mr Fuzzard said Ms Telford served the Mount Alexander Shire for five years as the councillor for the Tarrengower Ward. She was re-elected in October 2016 and elected mayor for a 12-month period.
"Mayor Telford's resignation is an enormous loss for the community," Mr Fuzzard said.
"I would like to express our gratitude to Sharon for the dedication and passion that she has provided to the Mount Alexander Shire during her time as both mayor and councillor."
Mr Fuzzard said Ms Telford brought a strong and collegiate approach with her councillors to the shire's executive team in the role as mayor.
"Sharon's work ethic and commitment to being involved in community activities across the shire, in particular during her role as mayor, has been exemplary," Mr Fuzzard said.
"I know that Sharon always wanted what was best for everyone in the community and I will miss working alongside her."
Fellow councillors were unavailable for comment on Ms Telford's sudden resignation but one outspoken Chewton resident, Bill Bayliss, called on the mayor to reconsider her decision and suggested legal action in regards to defamation of character.
Mr Bayliss believes Ms Telford resigned following continual abuse of a 'vile and despicable nature'.
"This is a deplorable situation brought about by those who have played the victim card,'' he said.
Ms Telford stated in a letter to the editor that her year as mayor had been memorable.
"I have met with many people and enjoyed much laughter, camaraderie and serious discussion. We have a vibrant shire with an engaged community and there is much to be proud of and as mayor it was with much pride that I could represent us so.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank my community for the five years I have enjoyed as their representative on the Mount Alexander Shire.''