Inner West councillors will vote for a new mayor this Tuesday before the next local government elections scheduled for December.
Whilst the mayor elected on Tuesday may only serve a three-month term, it’s believed that three frontrunners – incumbent Mayor Darcy Byrne and Deputy Mayor Victor Macri, as well as a Greens candidate – are vying for the position.
Mr Byrne was last month found by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) of four counts of misconduct and two further partial breaches of the NSW Local Government code of conduct, with NCAT suspending Byrne’s right to be paid any fee or remuneration for three months.
Council is still waiting for advice from the NSW Government regarding the decision that came into effect on August 9. The decision won’t impact the Deputy Mayor’s allowance or any other councillor should they be elected as mayor. The combined Mayoral and Councillor Allowance for a three month period is $27,847.50.
Greens Councillor Colin Hesse understands the sentence will be atop the minds of voters when they cast their votes early next week.
“There’s been some unhappiness about the existing Mayor by a majority of Councillors,” Mr Hesse told the Independent. “There’s also some concern that we’ve gone through three General Managers in this term as well.”
Mr Hesse is not seeking reelection in December but will cast a vote in the mayoralty this Tuesday, along with other retiring Labor and Green councillors. As a member of the Greens, Mr Hesse expects his party to be unified in their decision.
“The Greens are always in consensus when putting forward a candidate for the Mayoralty,” Mr Hesse said.
“That’s what we do, we’ve always done that, and I imagine we will have a united position next Tuesday night.”
Per the business papers prepared for the meeting, the first decision will be about electing the mayor. The only method of voting available to councillors will be “open voting (show of hands)”, as the meeting will be held remotely.
Assuming there are three candidates, there will be a second ballot unless one candidate gets the majority of votes (eight or more). If there isn’t a majority, the candidate with the least votes will be eliminated and there will be a second ballot. The General Manager, Acting Director Corporate and a Governance staff member will be located in the same council building in the event of a tied vote, and the choice will come out of a hat.
With it all but assured that all five Green councillors will vote in favour of their party member, with the same case for Mr Byrne and the Labor Party, the final result will likely be decided by Liberal Party councillors Ms Julie Passas and Ms Vittoria Raciti and Independent councillors Mr Macri, Ms Pauline Lockie and Mr John Stamolis.
Mr Stamolis has signalled his support for new blood in the Inner West and has hinted at supporting a female candidate.
“It is clear that Councillors are now looking [for] a change in leadership. With the majority of Inner West Councillors being female (8 vs. 7) it might also be time to address the male dominance of the Mayor and Deputy-Mayor roles,” Mr Stamolis wrote in his newsletter.
Mr Stamolis’ support of a female candidate may see his vote go to the Greens candidate, who is believed to be a woman.
Ms Lockie is believed to be standing as Deputy Mayor for the Inner West. The Independent asked Ms Lockie if she could confirm plans to run as Deputy Mayor, but did not provide a response prior to the story’s deadline.
Liberal Party councillors Ms Passas and Ms Raciti will also hold crucial votes. Labor and Liberal Inner West councillors had an alliance in the original vote that delivered the mayoralty to Mr Byrne in 2017. In return, both Ms Passas and Ms Raciti have served terms as deputy mayor.
However, relations have soured lately between the parties. The Liberal councillors may initially vote for Mr Macri, but how they vote if there is a second ballot may make the difference in a close contest.