Coun­cil to con­tinue vot­ing in mayor

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Joel Kelly

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.

Pa­trick Gard­ner.

Mayor Phil Marks.

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