Wanneroo Council advised not to hold by-election to replace Lara Simpkins

Stock image.
Stock image.

WANNEROO councillors are scheduled to consider tomorrow night whether to hold an extraordinary election to fill a seat vacated by Lara Simpkins, which could cost $93,000.

The former South ward councillor resigned from her elected position on September 10, 13 months before her term would end. Community News understands her family is relocating interstate.

A report from chief executive Daniel Simms recommended leaving the seat vacant for a year until the next local government elections in October 2019.

Mr Simms said the WA Electoral Commission estimated it would cost $93,000 to hold an extraordinary election for one seat, compared to between $300,000 and $340,000 for the 2019 election for eight positions.

At last week’s briefing session, some elected members questioned the process, including Central ward councillor Paul Miles who said four other councils were having extraordinary elections this year.

“South ward has struggled from time to time to have its councillors here,” Cr Miles said.

Mr Simms said he made the recommendation because there would be four remaining elected members to represent the South ward, down from five.

Mayor Tracey Roberts said the council had previously decided not to fill a vacancy in the ward in similar circumstances.

Cr Frank Cvitan said the council chose not to have a by-election last year when Sabine Winton resigned from the council because she won the Wanneroo seat in the State Election.

Cr Hugh Nguyen asked for more information about the representation ratio between the number of councillors and ratepayers.

In his report for the September 18 meeting, Mr Simms said the South ward had 38,021 electors at the October 2017 elections.

“The elector ratio per member is approximately 7642 per member; however, the vacancy will increase those numbers to approximately 9505 per member, an increase of 1863 electors per member,” he said.

Cr Frank Cvitan asked whether many candidates would be interested in the position given there was only one year left in the term.

South ward councillors Denis Hayden and Brett Treby are due to remain in office until the October 2019 elections. Crs Domenic Zappa and Nguyen’s terms will expire in October 2021.