CITY of Fremantle South ward councillor Andrew Sullivan is ‘gutted’ that residents may have to vote in a council by-election during the Christmas-New Year period.
WA Electoral Commissioner David Kerslake filed an invalidity complaint after deeming one of Cr Sullivan’s South ward rivals, Ben Moodie, ineligible to have nominated.
The Commissioner did not stipulate a reason for his finding. However, other candidates suggested there had been rumours during the election period that Mr Moodie – who finished fourth in last month’s ballot – had lived outside the South ward electoral boundary.
The Gazette made several attempts to contact Mr Moodie last week but the man at the centre of the complaint was not available for interview.
Cr Sullivan, a long-serving South ward representative, was disappointed that he might have to face another election campaign.
“All the candidates made huge commitments and made their own sacrifices to represent our community. We were let down by the commission,” he said.
“We aren’t professional politicians; we have no staff or hundreds of volunteers working for us.”
The case will be determined in the Court of Disputed Returns, where the Electoral Commission will ask that the result of the October election be declared invalid and a fresh election called.
A date for the court case has yet to be announced. If a fresh election is required it would be paid for by the Electoral Commission, not Fremantle ratepayers.
Liam Carter, who finished a close second behind Cr O’Sullivan in October, was ‘shocked’ at the potential for a by-election.
“To be honest I feel sorry for the members of South Freo because we are going to come around door-knocking and putting things into their letter box. I hope they will forgive us,” he said.
Third-placed Marija Vujcic said it was a question of standing up for the 268 people who voted for Mr Moodie.
“The system needs to make it right. If it is an inconvenience to run again then so be it, it is the right thing to do,” she said.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the Electoral Commissioner’s complaint was made on the last day possible, 28 days after the October 21 elections.