City of Stirling to hold referendum on citizen-elected mayors

Stirling Mayor Giovanni Italiano.
Stirling Mayor Giovanni Italiano.

IN an effort to “move with the times,” the City of Stirling will hold a referendum in October to ask residents if they want to directly elect the mayor.

WA councils can choose to adopt one of two systems for mayoral elections: voters directly elect the mayor or ward councillors decide.

Councillor David Boothman put forward a motion, after residents’ submitted nearly 500 signatures calling for the Mayor to be elected by the people.

Cr Terry Tyzack said because Stirling was such a large council, the role of Mayor was full time and difficult alongside the added responsibility of a ward.

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“This has been put to council many times, even back in the 1970’s,” he said.

“Removing the responsibility of the ward allows for a totally independent chairman.

“This will be a good opportunity to gauge opinion on this citywide – the feedback from the whole city gives us a total picture.

“It will allow us to move with the times; electors will have the opportunity to say and put the situation to bed.”

Petitioner and Karrinyup resident Leisha Jack said the response from the public to the petition had been in favour of a popularly elected Mayor.

“It will create much more interest around local government elections and gaining an extra ward candidate in such a large council will be a bonus,” she said.

Cr Elizabeth Re said a referendum would be a “terrible thing for the community” because it would delay the process for too long.

Cr Stephanie Proud said it was “absolutely time the council listened to the people”.

However, Cr Rod Willox said he had always supported the status quo but liked the idea of a referendum.

“When I was on the Local Government Advisory Board there were serious issues where about four or five councils had become very dysfunctional because the mayor did not have the support of councillors,” he said.

“I like the idea of a referendum because it is fair and democratic; let the people make the decision.”

How will October referendum work?

·       The referendum will coincide with the October local elections

·       Residents will receive a ballot paper with their local government voting pack

·       Electors will be invited to complete both ballots and return them to the City by 6.00pm on election day

·       The count commences from approximately 6.00pm on election night, with the Councillor ballots being counted first and the results declared

·       The referendum will then be counted and a statement of results provided once complete and will coincide with the 2017 Local Government Elections timeline

·       A report containing the statement of results of ballot for changing the method of electing the Mayor will need to be submitted to Council for their consideration and decision