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Mayors Installed Ahead Of Rocky Year

By Marcus Braid on November 2, 2015 in News

Photo: Randwick City Council

Photo: Randwick City Council

The mayors of the Eastern Suburbs Beaches councils have been installed for the coming year as debate continues over the appropriate method of for deciding on a leader.

Waverley Mayor Sally Betts was returned as Mayor of Waverley Council for a seventh term in September, in a seven to four victory, and Tony Kay was returned as Deputy Mayor for his third term.

Cr Betts’ first three years of mayoralty were the result of her a name being drawn out of a hat, after there was an even split on Council. While Waverley now has a Liberal majority, the electoral method has led to conjecture; a directly elected mayor, decided by the populous,, would settle the issue.

“It’s better to actually be elected in my own right,” Cr Betts said. “I don’t know what the answer is. You’ve really got to make sure that we don’t have even number councillors. It happens all over NSW. It can happen occasionally, and you just have to live with it I think.

“The important thing is that you can do long-term strategic planning. If you don’t know who your mayor is going to be in a year, it’s really impossible to do long-term planning.”

The potential of council amalgamation looms large over the respective local councils, with IPART performing the role of an expert advisory panel to assess how council proposals meet the Fit for the Future criteria.

Waverley Labor Councillor Ingrid Strewe said the rumours about amalgamation were flying thick and fast out of state parliament.

“I’ve heard that they are going to sack all of Council before Christmas, so that they can do the amalgamations,” she said. “I think that’s why they elected Sally as Mayor, because she sees herself as the mayor of the amalgamated council.

“There’s no way she would have stood down anyway.; they would have had to have had a big fight with her about it. The rumour from parliament is that they’re going to sack us all. I don’t know if that’s true or not.”

Cr Strewe said the current mayoral election system was the correct method.

“I think that on a whole the mayor should be elected by the councillors, just as the prime minister is elected by whichever team gets the numbers,” she said.

Randwick Council elected Matraville chemist and Labor Councillor Noel D’Souza Mayor on September 29, with Labor Councillor Greg Moore elected Deputy Mayor.

Randwick Council is adhering to an agreement reached after the local government elections in 2012, in which the mayoralty would will be alternated every 12 months. Liberal Councillor Ted Seng finished up his term as mayor prior to Cr D’Souza’s inception as Mayor.

“No system is perfect,” Randwick Labor Councillor Tony Bowen said. “Any organisation needs turnover and new people to come in to stay fresh.

“That’s a draw backdrawback of a direct election, but a positive is that you do have an executive control over the council, whereas if you’re changing mayors every 12 months, the council tends not to fall into the hands of one group or one individual. I think the direct election of mayor is something that Randwick should look at.”

Toni Zeltzer was re-elected as Woollahra Mayor and will continue her post, with Susan Wynne elected as deputy.