Shire shake-up claims three
Three sitting councillors have lost their posts, with voters replacing them with all-female recruits, while Shire president Ian Earl also won his seat despite quitting the presidency.
Cr Earl did not contest Wednesday night’s vote as an indicator of the changed make-up of the new Shire of Augusta-Margaret River Council, telling the Times before the vote the numbers were against him.
Margaret River Bookshop owner Pauline McLeod scored the highest vote in the election — buoyed by her high community profile and the end of the Shire’s ward system — but will find herself in a conservative minority because of her strong business interests, while newcomers Naomi Godden and Julia Meldrum were elected as part of a loose green-left council push.
With first-term councillor and Brookfield resident Pam Townshend elected Shire president, supported by Augusta veteran Mike Smart, who nominated Cr Meldrum for the deputy’s role, a working alliance with Crs Smart, Godden and Meldrum will put a different stamp on the council for the next two years. Despite a slew of big issues during the past two years, no fresh community candidates emerged, with Crs Godden and Meldrum representatives for a wide array of ratepayer concerns.
The Shire’s spending, including its staff budget, were key election issues reflected in Crs Godden’s and Meldrum’s polling.
Voting figures showed Cr McLeod led the pack with 2306 votes (15.35 per cent), followed closely by Cr Godden on 2152 (14.33 per cent) and Cr Meldrum (1959 votes or 13.04 per cent).
Cr Earl narrowly beat Augusta member Kim Hastie by 0.08 per cent, 1863 votes to 1851.
Former City of Perth boss Frank Edwards improved his 2015 showing with 11.7 per cent of the vote, but incumbents Kylie Kennaugh and Felicity Haynes lagged in the race, with Dr Haynes’ support base proving unsustainable.
The Shire’s voter turnout was similar to past years, with 35.2 per cent of election packages returned.
The end of the ward system allowed all ratepayers to vote for four candidates for the first time.
Augusta voters ousted Augusta candidate Mr Hastie, but did choose candidates backed by him and Cr Smart.