Bayside says no to vote on popularly elected mayor

Bayside says no to vote on popularly elected mayor

A call for Bayside to have a popularly elected mayor and reduce the number of councillors from 15 to 13 was defeated at this week's council meeting.

If supported, Bayside residents would had the chance to vote on a constitutional referendum at the September council elections on whether they wanted a popularly elected mayor to be elected for a four year term.

They would have been also asked if they supported electing three councilor in four wards, reducing the number of councillors in the Bayside LGA from 15 to 13.

The suggested changes were contained in a motion put forward by Councillors Christina Curry and Soctt Morrissey.

"This motion is in response to residents voicing their preference for a popularly elected mayor," Cr Curry said.

"The former Botany Council had a popularly elected mayor. People often question and are confused that they don't have an opportunity to vote for the mayor," she said.

But Cr Liz Barlow didn't support the motion.

"I've worked with eight mayors and got on with all of them except one," she said.

"With a popularly elected mayor you end up with the same person for four years. Sometimes they are okay and sometimes the are not. It depends on the publicity that they get and on the campaign that they run.

"So I've always been comfortable in voting for the mayor in the chamber. I've spoken to quite a few residents and they all said the same thing - they didn't want to be stuck with someone who may ot be the most suitable person, which does happen occasionally."

Deputy mayor James Macdonald was also against the motoin for a popularly elected mayor and for a reduction in wards and the number of councillors.

"I see it as a watering down of representation because we are going from five wards to four. The wards are just getting bigger. It's hard work for an independent. We don't have political parties behind us.

"The position of the Prime Minister and the Premier aren't elected by popular vote.

"I think councillors should retain the option to assess the performance of each mayor so if they don't believe they are doing a job we can remove them and vote for someone else."

But Cr Ed McDougall said the motion was not about whether the council has four wards and a popularly elected mayor.

"This is about asking our community what they want so they can decide what the structure of the council should be."

Cr Michael Nagi said no-one had approached him saying that they want a popularly elected mayor.

"We are elected by the residents. We make decisions on their behalf," he said.

He said the move would eliminate a decent independent or the minor parties because they are not going to get the popular vote.

The motion to go to the people and ask them if they wanted a popularly elected mayor was voted down by councillors 10:5.

"Councillors chose not to give people a say," Cr Curry said.