Rayner supports axing ward boundaries for next year’s elections
TOODYAY Shire President Brian Rayner says he supports abolishing the shire’s electoral ward system (pictured) to allow all Toodyay electors to vote for every councillor.
However, he opposes cutting the number of councillors from nine to seven, which would see all council seats – instead of only four – up for election next year.
Councillors voted 6-0 last month to review whether to scrap the shire’s current four-ward electoral system before next year’s biennial shire elections.Read more
However, any changes won’t affect two June 15 council by-elections in which only Central and West electors are entitled to vote.
However, abolishing wards would enable all Toodyay electors to vote next year for seats currently held by Crs Judy Dow (Central Ward), Eric Twine (North Ward), Rob Welburn (West Ward) and whoever in June wins the remaining 15 months of former West Ward Cr Sally Craddock’s term.
President Rayner told the Herald that he favoured everyone voting in all elections because councillors represented the whole community, not just those in their wards.
Seven councillors ‘too few’
However, he opposed cutting the number of councillors from nine to seven, which the council also voted 6-0 to review.
“That’s too few councillors,” he said.
“If one councillor misses a meeting and there is a tied vote, then the president gets an extra casting vote which I don’t think is a fair way to do things.
“And if two councillors miss a meeting, then you’re down to only five, which is not good in a 3-2 vote because three is not an overall council majority.”
Shire Deputy President Therese Chitty told last month’s council meeting that she had “always thought that we shouldn’t have ward boundaries”.
“We’re here for the good of all the shire,” she said.
“I think it’s time to look at the number of councillors too.”
Greenway says ‘centralisation’ a concern
Cr Paula Greenway said she was concerned that abolishing wards “could cause centralisation, while at the moment we have diversity”.
Shire CEO Stan Scott reported to last month’s council meeting that local government law required councils to review ward boundaries and representation every eight years.
Toodyay’s next review was due by September 2019.
“It is understood there is a petition circulating suggesting that wards be abolished and that the number of councillors be reduced from nine to seven,” Mr Scott said.
“It is not intended to consider the merits of that proposal.
“The ward review will provide the opportunity for that proposal to be considered without the need for a petition.”
Fewer councillors means all go to polls next year
Mr Scott said that if wards were abolished and the number of councillors reduced to seven, all seven council positions would be declared vacant next year.
The four candidates with most votes would be elected for four years, and the next three would sit for two years.
Mr Scott said the review would be advertised for public submissions for at least six weeks, considered by the council and a written report sent to the WA Local Government Advisory Board for approval.
In answer to a question from Cr Welburn, Mr Scott said there “should be plenty of time” to do it before next year’s elections.
Meanwhile, nominations opened on May 2 and close at 4pm on Wednesday May 9 for two council vacancies caused by the recent resignations of former Crs Sally Craddock (West Ward) and Di Granger (Central Ward).
The WA Electoral Commission will conduct a postal ballot of registered electors in those two wards next month after a record voter turn-out in similar elections last year.