Greens councillor Rochelle Porteous has been voted in as the new Mayor of the Inner West after defeating Labor Mayor Darcy Byrne and Independent Deputy Mayor Vic Macri for the position.
The new Mayor and Deputy Mayor will hold the position until this Council term concludes in three months, coinciding with the local government elections.
Councillors will vote for Mayoral positions again from a pool of potential new and existing Councillors. Porteous is not standing for re-election.
After receiving the fewest votes of the three candidates, Macri was excluded from the election and the voting continued between the two remaining candidates.
Councillor Porteous received seven votes to Councillor Byrne’s five votes in the second round and she was declared Mayor.
Councillor Passas, Raciti and Macri abstained from the vote, and Councillor Stamolis switched his original vote from Councillor Macri to Councillor Porteous.
Councillor Stamolis told the Independent he wanted an opportunity for two non-aligned people to go forward.
He said he hopes the change in positions will assist in steering the council away from its problems and infighting.
Independent councillor Pauline Lockie was then voted in as Deputy Mayor, beating Councillor Mckenna seven votes to five votes.
Councillor Passas, Raciti and Macri abstained from voting.
Macri told the Independent he abstained from voting because he wasn’t comfortable with the candidates, and the Mayoralty vote “was too Leichhardt centric for me, and that’s a real problem, changing out one Leichhardt Mayor for another one wasn’t what I thought an amalgamation should be.”
“There are other suburbs in the amalgamation and I thought they really should get a chance to show what they can do,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Lockie told the Independent these three months are a chance to reset the culture of the council.
“We’ve had a very combative term of Council, not just within the elected body, but also between the elected body and the operational side of Council, and that hasn’t been good for anyone, and it definitely hasn’t been good for our residents.
“If we can bring a sense of calm, get the meetings happening more productively, more collegiately, rebuild that trust between the elected body and the organisation itself, and more importantly, make sure that our community is front and centre throughout everything we do, then that can only be a positive thing,” she said.
The former Mayor Darcy Byrne called the election of a new Mayor and Deputy Mayor with three months left of Council ‘ridiculous.’
He said there was a backroom deal to remove him.
Byrne has been found guilty of misconduct by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal which decided his right to be paid should be suspended for three months.
Byrne breached conflict of interest provisions and improperly used his power as a Councillor to remove social media comments by Councillor Pauline Lockie and Councillor Colin Hesse.
Lockie said findings of misconduct are serious.
Councillor Macri told the Independent the outcome of the vote was close.
“It says something when you can only gather seven votes. That means half the council isn’t really happy with the direction that it’s going, so it doesn’t really spell a bright future.
“I would’ve liked to see if we could have got a candidate in that could have gotten closer to the three-quarter mark,” he said.