TOODYAY will get its third shire president in less than three years after retired State Government lawyer Bill Manning’s announcement that he will resign from the council next month and move to Tasmania.
President Manning and his wife have sold their Hoddys Well property and plan to leave for their new Launceston home on April 25.
The move comes as the council prepares to hire a new CEO and awaits the outcome of a wide-ranging State Government inquiry into the shire’s operations and affairs over the past seven years.
President Manning said he will chair the next council meeting on Tuesday March 25 and wants to remain president to oversee the appointment of a new shire CEO.
CEO job applicants
A report on job applicants was presented to councillors on March 3 after the council engaged national recruitment agency Beilby Downing Teal to advertise the $158,000-$260,000 job on a four-year contract.
President Manning said he also wanted to oversee the council’s response to any recommendations that may arise from the State Government inquiry.
He listed the two items as “unfinished business” when he resigned from the council last October to recontest his seat under new rules which for the first time allowed all electors to vote for all candidates.
President Manning said publicly before the poll that he was selling his home and unlikely to serve a full term if re-elected.
Inquiry report pending
The WA Local Government Department says the investigators’ report is still being examined by the State Solicitors Office to consider any prosecutions that may arise.
It is understood Mr Scott did not re-apply for his current $243,000-a-year job after failing twice last year to convince the council to let him stay for another three to five years when his contract expires on July 22.
Mr Scott took three weeks’ sick leave at short notice before a council meeting on February 25 but did not inform President Manning of his absence after attending a morning briefing with President Manning and Deputy President Rosemary Madacsi.
His automated email says “I am out of the office until Monday March 16”.
New elections needed
A new election for a council vacancy must be held within four months of President Manning’s resignation.
It also means the other eight councillors must elect a new president at the first council meeting after President Manning resigns.
This can be done at the scheduled Tuesday April 28 monthly council meeting or if an earlier special meeting is called.
Unlike council elections that involve all voters, Toodyay’s president and deputy are elected by a secret ballot of councillors who must be in the chamber when the vote is called.
When eight councillors (Cr Paula Greenway was absent on approved leave) tried to elect a new president last October, it resulted in a 4-4 deadlock between former deputy shire president Therese Chitty and Cr Rosemary Madacsi.
Cr Madacsi was re-elected to the council last year after serving four years from 2011 until she lost her seat in 2015 to former North Ward Cr Eric Twine.
Cr Ben Bell – who won the most votes in last October’s shire elections – was the first to announce in October that he would run for president but withdrew a day before the new council’s first secret ballot.
The stand-off between Crs Chitty and Madacsi resulted in both withdrawing their nominations to enable Cr Manning to be elected president unopposed a week later.
Cr Madacsi – who polled the second-highest number of votes in last October’s shire elections – was then elected deputy with five votes, followed by Cr Chitty (two) and Cr Bell (one).
Madacsi to nominate for President
Deputy President Madacsi says she will again nominate for president when Cr Manning resigns next month.
She will need the support of least four other councillors (including at least one of her former opponents) to gain an absolute majority of five votes as required by law on the normally nine-member council.
If she loses to any challenger, she will remain deputy to whoever else is elected president.
Crs Chitty and Bell told The Herald last month that they would not run again for president though both voted against Cr Madacsi when she nominated for president last October.
Former shire president Brian Rayner also said he wouldn’t run again, though it is understood that he too voted against Cr Madacsi last year.
Rayner may run for deputy
Cr Rayner said he might nominate next month for deputy president, depending on who is elected president.
He was shire president for two years until last October after not needing to contest an election in 2017 when he stood for council unopposed in the now-abolished North Ward.
Cr Rayner has never faced an election by all voters under new rules adopted last year.
Audit Committee Chair Beth Ruthven, who – like Cr Madacsi – was elected by all Toodyay voters five months ago, said she would not nominate to be president but declined to comment on the deputy’s role.
Three other councillors – veteran Paula Greenway and newcomers Phil Hart and Susan Pearce – appear unlikely to be contenders.
Cr Greenway – who has also never faced an election by all Toodyay voters – ran unsuccessfully against Cr Chitty for deputy in 2015 after the previous council re-elected former Cr David Dow unopposed as president until his election defeat in 2017.
Recent council voting patterns suggest there is no obvious factional split to oppose Cr Madacsi’s new presidential bid.
However, last October’s stand-off when four current councillors voted against her becoming president suggests fresh behind-the-scenes jockeying may be underway.
If another challenger emerges and the council is again deadlocked in a new 4-4 split that cannot be resolved, the presidency will be decided by a lottery draw.