Warren Polglase
Warren Polglase

No change to mayoral vote

TWEED Shire councillors have backed away from a push to change the system for electing the the mayor.

The decision comes despite a strong push from almost half the councillors who argue it is time the people rather than the councillors made the decision.

Mayor Warren Polglase and deputy mayor Phil Youngblutt - who won their positions last month after a tied vote between councillors and a draw of names from a brown cardboard box - teamed up with councillors Dot Holdom and Kevin Skinner to block any change during Tuesday's monthly council meeting.

Greens Party councillor Katie Milne, who topped the poll in last year's council election, led the charge for a change with a motion calling on the council to “instigate the process to consider the election of mayor by popular vote”.

She described the argument that the mayor should be elected by councillors as “strange”.

But Cr Skinner declared: “I believe the system in place at this point in time has served the council extremely well”.

And Cr Dot Holdom said her colleagues needed to be “vary aware” of what any change would costs.

The council's general manger Mike Rayner said he would need to take advice from the NSW Electoral Commission if the councillors wanted exact details on any extra costs for holding an election for the mayor.

He said a change would require a referendum on the matter at the next council election in September 2012 and if the public agreed to electing the mayor by popular vote that could then not happen until the following council election in 2016.

Former mayor Joan van Lieshout told her colleagues it was “time for us to get on board and have the people vote for the mayor”.

But the man who lost out in last month's lucky-dip draw for the mayoralty, former deputy mayor Barry Longland stayed out of the debate at Tuesday's council meeting despite saying last month that a referendum on the voting system may be in order.

Byron Shire, Lismore City and Gold Coast City councils all have popularly elected mayors whereas Tweed has stuck with the system of councillors voting for their mayor every September.

Councillors have traditionally refused to even approve a referendum on the issue.

One was mooted to be held in conjunction with a referendum on introducing a ward system at last year's council poll.

But that proposal was axed following opposition from then administrator Max Boyd.



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