GEORGE GEAR has taken the reins of power in Melville and says he’ll now push for a review into the make-up of the council’s executive.
The former federal assistant treasurer easily swept aside three-term mayor Russell Aubrey at Saturday’s election, the ex-chalkie failing to overcome the controversy of a wave park he’d pushed in his last term, nor the stigma of a state government inquiry into the council on his watch.
The final vote was a resounding 11,005 votes for Mr Gear to Mr Aubrey’s 7549, with former mayor Katy Mair a close third on 7474.
A late flurry of 600 votes lodged in person on Saturday helped pushed the turnout rate for the mayoral election to a healthier 36.6 per cent, but it also meant a delay in the count and Mr Gear wasn’t declared winner until 10pm that night.
There wasn’t time for a sleep-in; when the Herald called for a comment on Sunday morning, he’d already received his first official call-up.
“I’m prepping for my first engagement, it’s with the premier at Tompkins Park,” Mr Gear said.
The gig was to launch plans to close Canning Highway down for the finale of the 2020 Perth Festival so a convoy of semi-trailers with bands on the back can head down the “Highway to Hell”, in tribute to former AC/DC lead singer Bon Scott on the 40th anniversary of his death.
After watching arts minister David Templeman rasp out a couple of credible lines of Acca Dacca, Mr Gear turned back to the future of the council.
The new mayor said federal Tangney MP Ben Morton’s attempt to inject the Roe 8 debate into the election, which was enthusiastically embraced by Mr Aubrey, had backfired.
“He did not understand his own electorate, and their understanding of the need for reform locally,” Mr Gear said.
“Roe 8 was a dishonest campaign by Ben, because he knew, as Melville people knew, that it was a state matter.”
Mr Gear’s ticket almost made a clean sweep, with only Jillian Horton missing out to Aubrey supporter Duncan Macphail, but he says there’s enough independence to avoid the bloc voting he thinks has been to Melville’s detriment.
Mr Aubrey was unusually silent on social media following his loss, but on Wednesday hit the keyboard to deliver a brief and blunt assessment of the result: “Labor has a stranglehold on another local government,” he wrote.
by STEVE GRANT