Call for unity
LIKE the rooster crowing on Page 1 of this month’s newspaper, recent shire elections herald a new dawn for Toodyay.
The election of four new councillors who campaigned for change creates a radically different new nine-member chamber.
New Shire President Bill Manning and firebrand Cr Ben Bell were often lone voices of dissent on previous big decisions such as repeated rate rises and the shire CEO’s job.
President Manning can now expect greater council support after being elected unopposed as leader last month.
But it was not without controversy.Read more
A secret ballot for president at the first council meeting three days after the election (Cr Paula Greenway absent on council-approved leave) resulted in a shock 4-4 deadlock between former deputy president Therese Chitty and new Cr Rosemary Madacsi.
The stand-off arose after Cr Bell polled the highest number of votes in the October 19 council elections and announced on Facebook next day that he would run for president.
Cr Madacsi, who previously served four years on the council before losing her now-abolished North Ward seat to former Cr Eric Twine in 2015, had weeks earlier gained the support of other new councillors to run for president.
Cr Bell withdrew his nomination on the morning of the ballot, leaving Cr Madacsi to face a second bid for president by Cr Chitty, who two years ago was defeated 5-4 by former shire president Brian Rayner.
Last month’s tied vote resulted in community disbelief, anger and dismay, seemingly dashing hopes for an end to divisions that wracked the previous council.
Tensions simmered for a week until Crs Chitty and Madacsi both withdrew, enabling Cr Manning to stand unchallenged for president on October 29 when a second ballot was called.
His first announcement as the council’s new presiding officer was a call for unity.
“The community expects us to work together as a united team and I am confident we can do that,” President Manning said.
“There will be differences of opinion, of course, but these need to be handled in a polite and respectful manner, and the majority decision needs to be respected.”
A new absolute majority of like-minded councillors should help make that job easier.