Fresh from appointing her two new hand-picked directors, Shire of Augusta-Margaret River chief executive Stephanie Addison-Brown has resigned. The Times understands the surprise move was tendered on Friday and Ms Addison-Brown was already living in Busselton. Also on Wednesday, councillors held a private crisis meeting. While councillors declined to answer questions about the reason behind the unscheduled meeting, the Times understands the departure of the chief executive was only one item of discussion. Multiple sources connected to the local government pointed to tensions already reported by the Times about the influence of lobbying and political ideologies at last month’s election that delivered the new eight-member council and Julia Meldrum the Shire presidency. A quick check among leading community groups revealed a common theme: members wanted to know the reason for Ms Addison-Brown’s shock resignation coming so soon after a five-year contract extension. Ms Addison-Brown told the Times she had accepted a position with the City of Busselton as stakeholder relations manager. She would continue in Augusta-Margaret River until February 9 with some leave booked at Christmas. The Times understands the manager position was previously listed as a co-ordinator role and left vacant by former media manager Drew Mazalevskis who resigned for health reasons. In an official Augusta-Margaret River Shire statement, president Meldrum paid tribute to the departing chief executive. “Steph has been an outstanding CEO, leading the Shire through a range of significant changes and delivering a suite of key initiatives in line with council’s goals,” Ms Meldrum said. “She has consistently performed to an exceptional standard, building strong stakeholder relationships and delivering all the KPIs that were set for her by council.” The robustness of those KPIs was questioned earlier this year by now-retired councillor Brian Daniel, who cited his background as a chief executive in the corporate sector to explain his vote against the new goals as well as Ms Addison-Brown’s contract extension. Councillor and former Shire president Ian Earl told the Times he wanted to thank Ms Addison-Brown for her support and leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We worked very well as a team during the COVID-19 crisis,” he said. “As a Shire we were leaders across the State in what we tried to achieve.” A $2 million emergency relief fund to support community groups and stimulate the local economy was Ms Addison-Brown’s proposal, Cr Earl said. “It was a really big challenge for both of us and how we keep the place (local government) operating,” he said. Ms Meldrum also lauded Ms Addison-Brown’s stewardship of the main street redevelopment, the return of the Margaret River Heart to community control, the soon-to-be-open redeveloped aquatic centre plus initiatives on climate action, communication and the sustainable economy.