RESIDENTS in Fremantle’s South Ward face a by-election already, with an unsuccessful candidate at last weekend’s election saying she’s almost certain to challenge the result.
Marija Vujcic finished third in a five-way race for the ward, her 517 votes 138 shy of eventual winner and incumbent Andrew Sullivan. But one of the candidates, Ben Moodie, had slipped through the system without being on the electoral role, meaning he was technically ineligible to run.
His 268 votes could have had a major impact on the result, particularly given young Greens candidate Liam Carter was just 57 votes behind Cr Sullivan.
Although the WA Electoral Commission allowed the poll to continue given Mr Moodie’s candidacy had been accepted, Fremantle’s returning officer Jeff Clark told the Herald if there was a close result the glitch would likely provide grounds for a challenge.
Ms Vujcic says she’s seeking advice from her barrister, but winning the election isn’t as important to her as ensuring the Westminster system of government was protected.
“What screening did the candidates go through? It seems to me that someone wasn’t doing their job,” she said crossly.
Mr Clark played that with a straight bureaucratic bat, saying the commission had advised it would handle the issue and that he was greet anyone with queries by “acknowledging their questions and wishing them a nice day”.
Ms Vujcic also wants names of voters checked against the role, claiming there may have been some stacking of the suburb to get extra Green voters.
“I’m not against the Greens – my first adult vote was for Bob Brown – but I find that when they are in power, the people lose out.”
Mr Carter told the Herald he was definitely not going to challenge the result, and would have to carefully weigh up whether to renominate if Ms Vujcic was successful in getting it overturned.
“I genuinely don’t know; I’d have to think about it because the election was punishing, not just for me but for my campaign team, and I don’t know how they’d feel about having to do it all again for a few weeks,” Mr Carter said.
Across the rest of the city, the results were a strong endorsement for mayor Brad Pettitt, who was returned for another four years with a chamber of friendly faces and some have argued a mandate to ditch January 26 as Australia Day, although he says it wasn’t as big an election issue as some have made out.
He told the Herald he was happy the argy bargy of the election was finally over, and said the result showed the residents of Fremantle were not interested in negative campaigns but were looking toward a better future.
Dr Pettitt took 54.77 per cent of the vote against former chamber of commerce president Ra Stewart, who ran a strong campaign that slashed his margin from the last campaign but failed to deliver the killer blow.
Ms Stewart’s campaign was strongly supported by former Fremantle mayor Peter Tagliaferri, but even his influence in his Beaconsfield heartland couldn’t get aligned candidate Fedele Camarda up, as rising Labor star Hannah Fitzhardinge (who’s just been appointed to the Rottnest Island board by the McGowan government) was returned comfortably with almost 60 per cent of the vote.
City Ward was a close contest between three candidates, with Greater Fremantle organiser Adin Lang finishing on 562 votes, with Linda Wayman on 494 and Claudia Green on 464. Voters decided Roel Loopers’ skills as a council-watching blogger were too important to lose to a stuffy council chamber and he finished well off the pack with 218 votes, while Julie Morgan trailed the field with 153.
Former mayor Jenny Archibald romped it home in East Ward with 73.12 per cent of the vote, but she was edged out of having the most comprehensive win by North Ward veteran Doug Thompson, who pipped her by just 0.01 per cent.
Socialist Sam Wainwright took Hilton by 55.61 per cent.
In Melville, mayor Russell Aubrey will need all his negotiating skills after his dominance of the chamber was hammered.
He lost his daughter and deputy mayor Rebecca (1568 votes) to arch nemesis Katy Mair (2699 votes), while key ally Cameron Schuster (1257 votes) was ousted by wave park opponent Steve Kepert (1871 votes).
The Alfred Cove Action Group had a big win, with four of its preferred candidates getting up, including veteran June Barton, wharfie Karen Wheatland and Ms Mair. A newsletter to members says it showed Melville residents were mad about the status quo and demanding change.
“While we have negotiated an important stage in the wave park process, we are by no means assured of the result we are seeking,” the newsletter read.
“There are still mountains to climb and hopefully we can do this together.”
It wasn’t all bad news for Mr Aubrey, as Clive Robartson romped in against Marie Curtis in Bull Creek-Leeming, Patricia Phelan was returned as the second candidate in Palmyra-Melville-Willagee and Nicole Foxton saw off ACAG candidate Matt Bruyninckx convincingly.
But he technically faces a chamber split 6/6, so may be required to use his casting vote more in the second half of his term.
On Tuesday Cr Matthew Woodall was voted in as Melville’s deputy mayor.
“With many new faces around the table, it will take a while for all of us to get to know each other and find out where our common interest lie,” he told his colleagues prior to the secret vote.
“I am committed to promoting respectful dialogue, discussions and debate amongst councillors in an environment where we value each other’s opinions, even when we disagree with them.”
Cockburn’s mayoral election saw Logan Howlett returned comfortably.
“With two new faces on council in Chontelle Sands and Michael Separovich, there will be little time for them to settle in as we get down to the business of making all those important decisions,” Mr Howlett said. “The return of Lee-Anne Smith OAM, Philip Eva JP and Kevin Allen sees a balance of experience maintained around the table.”
by STEVE GRANT