Factional balance stays

MELVILLE has three new councillors after Saturday’s election.

Clive Ross, a key player in opposing the proposed Wave Park and a campaigner against the height and density of the Canning Bridge precinct won the closest contest, ending the tenure of Steve Kepert in Applecross-Mt Pleasant ward. Voters punished him for his battle with the administration and the Local Government Standards Panel over a minor breach of standards, his vote dropping from 44 per cent in 2017 to just over 12 per cent this time around.

Jane Edinger also took on the wave park as part of the core of the Alfred Cove Action Group, and her campaign against the council’s first attempt at a master plan for the Attadale Foreshore helped her take Bicton-Attadale-Alfred Cove ward with 42 per cent of the vote.

Jennifer Spanbroek was a convincing winner in the former mayor Russell Aubreys stronghold of Bull Creek-Leeming ward, taking nearly half the vote in a three-way race.

Incumbents Nicole Robins and Katy Mair romped it home in their seats, while Karen Wheatland earned a rest from campaigning by retaining her seat unopposed.

The result maintains the power balance on the council, with former mayor Russell Aubrey having been active on social media during the campaign, though current mayor George Gear insists he’s killed off factionalism.

“I leave it entirely to the electors and work with whomever is elected,” Mr Gear said.

“Whilst some people try and categorise councillors in to a particular camp (Aubrey for instance) I don’t.

“I tell all councillors that they are elected as independents and all I ask of them is that they make up their own minds on any issue based on the facts that are presented as well as their life experiences and beliefs.

“I don’t want any councillor having their mind made up for them by anyone but themselves.”

Tomas Fitzgerald, who wasn’t up for re-election, was voted in as deputy mayor on Monday night.

He said his colleagues’ support was a strong endorsement of the council’s Climate Action Plan which he’d played a large role in developing.

Cr Fitzgerald said as deputy he’d be taking back control of the governance committee, which former deputy June Barton had delegated to her predecessor for continuity.

“While I appreciate that rationale, I think that the governance committee should be a very robust part of the city’s organisation, and should make very strong recommendations.

“Being chaired by the deputy mayor does set particular expectations about the place of that committee within the city’s broader governance structure, so I’ll return to that practice,” Cr Fitzgerald said.

Mr Gear expressed his gratitude for retiring councillors Barton and Clive Robartson, who between them had racked up 70 years serving on council.

by STEVE GRANT and THOMAS BLOFFWITCH

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