Council to continue voting in mayor
BELMONT ratepayers have been denied the chance to elect their own mayor after council blocked a motion to change the current ‘councillors’ choice’ system.
The motion to change the method of electing the mayor was voted down five votes to four last Tuesday at the City of Belmont’s council meeting.
There are 30 metropolitan local governments in WA, 26 of which have City status and are eligible to allow electors to vote for their own mayor.
Of the 26 eligible local governments, 17 mayors were elected by residents while the remaining seven were elected by councils.
Belmont’s planning officer’s report recommended council support councillor Patrick Gardner’s motion to allow local electors to vote for the mayor.
Cr Gardner said the current system of a secret ballot between councillors was not a transparent or mature approach to voting for such a significant role.
“I think we’re not serving the interests of our community with this system,” he said.
But several councillors disagreed, arguing the current system was less immune to influence from candidate campaign expenditure and political party influence.
Mayor Phil Marks said he supported the current system.
“It’s set at the moment for the ordinary guy to be mayor whereas the other version favours people with a lot of money,” he said
“It can also favour people put forward by political parties.”
Cr Gardner, a Labor Party member, said it was wrong to deny the community the opportunity.
“The vast majority of metropolitan councils have chosen to directly elect their mayor and that is a great thing for these local communities,” he said.
“Despite concerns that money and outside influence would overrun the council, this does not appear to have occurred at the City yet and we should look to introduce transparency measures to ensure the process is transparent and accountable.”
Attempts to change the method of electing the mayor date back to 2001 but the current practice was retained; it was again raised in 2003 but the status quo was retained.
Mayor Phil Marks.