A political endorsement of East Fremantle mayoral candidate Barry de Jong from the East Fremantle Football Club has been slammed as “inappropriate”, a “mistake” and “divisive” by rivals Alex Wilson and Jim O’Neill.
In a letter to members club president Con Tripi endorses Cr de Jong for his “support for the facility requirements of the sporting groups in our town and his desire to ensure that the East Fremantle Football Club remain in the East Fremantle community”.
The council is currently seeking public input into a redevelopment concept plan that could involve selling parts of the oval’s hinterlands for housing.
Cr Wilson, the town’s acting mayor, says no-one should be jumping the gun nor stating a position on the plan until that process is finished.
Cr de Jong says he had made no promises to the club about how he’d vote: “You have to read the letter carefully,” he says. “It’s saying that I support all sporting clubs and the town’s facility requirements.”
He points out the letter also backs his business background and strong opposition to amalgamation with Melville.
“The only reason they endorsed my campaign is they see that I’m the right person to lead the town in this difficult time. I think it’s bizarre that people have made an issue of it.”
Mr O’Neill, a former mayor, lives opposite the reserve so is unable to vote on the plan if elected, but says, “I’m bewildered by the letter, and I think it’s divisive”.
We didn’t hear back from Mr Tripi before deadline.
It’s not the only niggle heading into the last days of the council elections.
In Fremantle, mayoral candidate Matthew Hanssen is calling for mayor Brad Pettitt’s scalp because of electioneering breaches.
Mr Hanssen has complained to the WA electoral commission about the mayor’s posters and advertisements not carrying authorisations nor information on where they’re printed. The mayor had also listed a council phone number on his flyers: “Again, I ask that the mayor be disqualified,” Mr Hanssen pleaded with returning officer Jeff Clark. “He has again failed in his obligations to the electoral commission and is in breach of the act.”
But Dr Pettitt brushed off the criticism, saying he’d had been given incorrect information which led to some breaches, and he’d acted to immediately to correct them. He’d also cleared with the council CEO using the council number on his flyers because he uses his own mobile for council business: “Sadly it wouldn’t be a Fremantle mayoral election without someone throwing mud and in this media release Matthew throws it in every direction hoping it will stick on me or City of Fremantle staff. This is disappointing to say the least,” Dr Petttitt said.
by DAVID BELL and STEVE GRANT