COCKBURN council will not hold a by-election following the resignation of East Ward councillor Lara Kirkwood.
Councillor Kirkwood resigned in February this year, meaning the position will be left vacant for eight months until the October council elections.
According to current East Ward councillor Tarun Dewan, a request to avoid a costly bi-election was approved by the WA Electoral Commission last month.
Cr Dewan said he and fellow East Ward councillor Carol Reeve-Fowkes made the decision to work the ward together and put the motion to the rest of the council, who supported it.
“We did not want to burden the taxpayers with another election,” he said, adding that up to $100,000 was saved as a result.
With almost 40,000 Cockburn locals residing in the East Ward, the choice to leave Ms Kirkwood’s position vacant has left remaining councillors Dewan and Reeve-Fowkes with a surging workload.
“There are a significant number of phone calls, emails and messages we receive and must respond to, [but we are] willing to take on the extra-responsibility,” Cr Dewan said.
While it saves money, the decision leaves East Ward with one less representative. “A drawback of the decision,” Cr Dewan said. He believes that when they had three councillors, discussions were more thorough and more diverse in opinion, leading to better informed decision-making.
Despite this, Cr Dewan said the decision to skip a by-election was in the best interests of East Ward’s residents.
“By and large I think the people are quite happy with the way we are running the show.
“We are doing our best.” Cr Dewan cited cost of living and inflationary pressures as reasons for avoiding the expense of a by-election, allowing for taxpayer’s hard-earnt money to be “well saved” and “utilised in the improvement of facilities and projects and other areas such as parks, infrastructure and community events”.
by EVIE WHITTINGTON