But could a mystery runner spoil the party?
WHO will be the next mayor of the Gold Coast? Political hopefuls are secretly positioning themselves now, and Mayor Tom Tate will play a key role.
An experienced campaigner close to the Mayor says: “Part of Tom’s third term will be about succession. Political history is dotted with errors of succession. If Tom wants to protect his legacy he must shepherd one of his senior councillors through.”
Enter Cameron Caldwell and Hermann Vorster.
“Cameron may be considered the favourite but you can’t rule Hermann out. He has the chops – the political skills, temperament, talent and personality,” the campaigner says.
Both councillors were recently appointed acting mayor. If Cr Tate or Deputy Mayor Donna Gates is absent, they represent the city.
Ask around outside of council to those close to the Mayor, and Cr Caldwell will get the nod.
“Tom will bail out (after the third term) and hand it over to Caldwell,” one of this city’s smartest political strategists says.
“Hermann is after Ray Stevens’ seat (in Mermaid Beach) and he will put his hand up when he retires. But there is another high-profile politician who might run (for mayor).”
Who is this person? The source made a promise not to tell and keeps it.
Inside council, the view is consistent. Cr Caldwell and Cr Tate are close.
The city’s powerful planning chair is regarded in this term as the Mayor’s strongest ally. The old brigade who stood by him, Paul Taylor and Gary Baildon, are retired.
A council insider says: “Cameron is favoured by the Mayor above Hermann. The challenge for Cameron is whether he will have huge support from the other councillors. That can make a difference in the actual campaign.”
How can that be? “Tom got the support he did in the recent campaign because 10 of the 14 councillors were either not opposed to him or they supported him,” the council insider says.
At the pre-polling booths and on election day, it means the sitting mayor does not have to contend with the area councillor and their team handing out how-to-vote cards for his rivals.
Think about it from Cr Caldwell’s position. Does he gain such a huge voting advantage by having the support of Cr Tate?
He is popular in his own division in the city’s north. Will Cr Tate’s support help him in areas like Palm Beach where his planning committee is on the nose for approving high-rises?
Then there are the now experienced councillors he arrived with at the Evandale chambers. Mudgeeraba’s Glenn Tozer is clearly in opposition to Cr Tate. He was one of the few sitting councillors given the green light in the pre-poll survey by the ACE community group.
Helensvale’s William Owen-Jones, chair of the resurrected governance committee, is respected for his financial knowledge and ability to bring together factions in councillor ranks.
Neither councillor has ever talked up mayoral aspirations. But if Cr Caldwell can put his hand up, do you think they might say: “Well, I’ve got as good credentials, why not me?”
Let’s not forget Deputy Mayor Donna Gates, who gained rave reviews among colleagues for her strong performance in the Bulletin forums in the countdown to the poll.
So imagine we are in the future. In 2024, you are (again) eating at your tavern or local restaurant with friends. The discussion turns to Cr Caldwell running for mayor.
There’s talk about other councillors running, just like Susie Douglas, Peter Young and Eddie Sarroff tried unsuccessfully to do in 2012.
The 2024 race could end up in a corner pileup just before the finish, like at the Winter Olympics when Australian ice skater Steven Bradbury stole gold.
So who is this mystery high-profile politician considering a run for the city’s top job? He or she could be our Bradbury. Hope they’re good.
Will the mayoralty hat fit either of Cr Cameron Caldwell or Cr Hermann Vorster?