Cr Ben Taylor is a familiar face on the local political scene. He has served as a councillor for the South Ward on two separate councils - from 2008 to 2012, and the current council, which was elected in autumn 2016.
Aged 43, he lives in Durham Lead near Buninyong with his wife and four children, whose ages range from 18 to seven. He describes having children as a "great leveller".
A coach and player at Ballarat Wildcats Basketball Club, Cr Taylor is also well known in the local business community, and is currently working as a business development manager at UNITI, an Alfredton-based software company.
He studied computer systems and business at the University of Ballarat. With that background, Cr Taylor initially worked in technical IT jobs, before moving into the sales and customer-facing side of business.
He is likely to take a back seat at his current company but has not yet confirmed the details of his involvement while he is mayor.
A long-standing member of the Liberal Party, Cr Taylor has also tried his hand at politics at the state level, first in 2010 when he stood for election in the former electorate of Ballarat East.
He comfortably won the first-preference votes that year, with more than 43 per cent of voters putting his name at the top of the ballot paper. However, the Labor Party's Geoff Howard won the election on second preferences.
Although he did not stand for council in 2012 - citing work commitments - Cr Taylor again threw his hat into the ring for the state elections for the newly formed electorate of Buninyong in 2014, standing once more against Geoff Howard.
During the campaign, he came under intense media scrutiny for his conservative stance on abortion after saying he thought the state's laws had gone too far. The National Party candidate Sonia Smith said that his views meant she would not second preference him.
Cr Taylor again came in second, unable to compete with a state-wide Labor swing of 3.6 per cent, which saw the Daniel Andrews government come into power.
In the previous three years, Cr Taylor has supported Cr McIntosh as mayor. The Courier understands his decision to stand against his fellow Liberal Party member has caused considerable tension within the party and among councillors.
However, those that have supported him in this mayoral election - which included councillors of several political hues - praise him for being data driven, collegiate and proactive.
He has has long been an advocate for rejuvenating the CBD, and cites the Bakery Hill Urban Renewal Plan as one of his priorities as mayor. He also has campaigned to reduce red tape surrounding the planning process.
His most vocal backer, Cr Amy Johnson, called him "a very collaborative person".
Councillor Des Hudson, who made the decisive move to put Cr Taylor as the front-runner, described him as "passionate about the city" and "across all the issues," and said he would carry out the job with "honesty and integrity".
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