Nine contest six council seats
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
TOODYAY will gain at least four new faces on its nine-member shire council when a postal ballot for six vacancies closes at 6pm on Saturday October 19.
Three councillors have decided not to stand for re-election, leaving nine other candidates contesting six vacancies.
All Toodyay voters will for the first time be allowed to vote for all candidates regardless of where they live or own land.
The three councillors not standing again were among the six who voted for this year’s 2.5 per cent rates rise and supported a secret council backflip to re-employ shire CEO Stan Scott for another year with a 2.5 per cent pay rise.Read more
They are shire audit committee chair Rob Welburn and Crs Judy Dow and Rick Twine.
Cr Ben Bell and former Cr Bill Manning opposed both those decisions and are standing for re-election.
State Government inquiry overshadows poll
The poll comes as a log-running State Government inquiry into the shire council and its administration is expected to report its findings by the end of next month.
Inquiry recommendations will be sent to Local Government Minister David Templeman for possible action.
It follows almost a year of Local Government Department monitoring of the shire and criticism of its performance before the Minister launched a formal inquiry last December.
Former Cr Manning resigned from the council last month while only half-way through his four-year term because he said all electors should have an opportunity to decide if he should stay on the council.
He and Cr Bell were both previously elected under a former ward system in which only voters in particular wards could vote only for candidates in their wards.
Former Cr Manning said councillors with two years left to serve under the old system should resign to enable all Toodyay voters to decide if they should to stay on the council.
It would “ensure greater legitimacy in the eyes of the electorate”, he said.
Shire Deputy President Therese Chitty and Cr Paula Greenway said they would not resign because they were lawfully elected for four years until 2021.
President Brian Rayner – who nobody voted for two years ago when he stood unopposed in the shire’s now-abolished North Ward – also rejected public calls to face all voters for the first time this month.
The new council will hold a special meeting at 3pm on Tuesday October 22 for a secret ballot to elect a shire president and deputy for the next two years.
Seven new candidates include former Cr Rosemary Madacsi who served on the council from 2011 to 2015, Beth Ruthven who is a community member of the shire audit committee after previously serving on it 2012-2015, and Brian Chambers, former secretary of the now-disbanded shire cemetery committee 1999-2003.
The four other new candidates are Perth resident Bruce Campbell who says he visits Toodyay every second weekend and stays in a hotel, Phil Hart (Morangup) Susan Pearce (Hoddys Well) and Bruce Guthrie (West Toodyay).
Former Cr Manning’s Hoddys Well home is for sale and he plans to move interstate but says this could take years and there is “important unfinished business that I would like to see through”.
An Australia Post mail-out of 3425 postal ballot voting packages began late last month.
Voters have until 6pm on Saturday October 19 to return their marked ballot papers in pre-paid envelopes to the WA Electoral Commission (WAEC) in Perth or place them in a ballot box at the shire office in Fiennes Street, Toodyay.
Late returns can be lodged at the council chamber which will open from 8am to 6pm on the Saturday when the ballot closes.
WAEC Returning Officer Robert Dew said voters could tick up to six boxes next to candidates’ names on the ballot paper.
Voters’ selections had to be marked with a tick – not a number, or an X.
People could tick fewer than six boxes and their votes would still count.
However, ticking more than six boxes would cause the ballot paper to be declared invalid.
People who believed they were entitled to vote but didn’t receive an election package in the mail or had lost their ballot paper could visit the shire to apply for a replacement.
Mr Dew said election packages would also be available at the shire chamber from 8am on the final Saturday of the election.