Sammels back in top job

New Baldivis Ward councillor Matthew Whitfield and new Comet Bay councillor Justin Smith.
New Baldivis Ward councillor Matthew Whitfield and new Comet Bay councillor Justin Smith.

INCUMBENT City of Rockingham Mayor Barry Sammels was re-elected to the top job unopposed at a special meeting of council on Monday evening after being re-elected as the Rockingham ward councillor on Saturday.

The voter turnout rate for Comet Bay was only 20.96 per cent of electors, Baldivis Ward was 22.41 per cent, Safety Bay 25.96 per cent and Rockingham 26.9 per cent.

Average voter participation fell by 3 per cent this year, with just 28 per cent of voters participating.

Former deputy mayor Deb Hamblin, who was re-elected to Safety Bay Ward with a whopping 49.81 per cent of the vote, was outsted from the deputy position by Baldivis ward councillor Richard Smith, who was re-elected onto council with 22.52 per cent of the vote.

In the contest for the deputy mayor position, Cr Smith scored five votes to Cr Hamblin’s three, while Cr Ron Pease netted two.

Cr Hamblin said in a pre-vote speech that in addition to her skills and desire to learn more as the deputy mayor, she believed that having a woman representing the community in at least one of council’s positions of leadership was important.

The council has gone from having five women to three after Cr Anne Prince retired and Cr Lorraine Dunkling missed out on a spot in the Baldivis ward after gaining only 7.72 per cent of the vote.

But Cr Smith said the position was not an ‘apprenticeship’ or a ‘succession plan’ and required someone ‘willing, capable and experienced’. Cr Smith held the deputy mayor role before Cr Hamblin was voted to the position after the last election.

New Baldivis Ward councillor Matthew Whitfield (who polled better than fellow Baldivis councillor Richard Smith, with 25.64 per cent of the vote) and new Comet Bay councillor Justin Smith (who took out 39.62 per cent of the vote) were also sworn in on Monday.

Cr Justin Smith is the son of Deputy Mayor Richard Smith, and the pair are understood to be the first father-son team to serve on the council.

Cr J Smith said he was inspired to run for council because of his father, while Cr R Smith said he was ‘very proud’ his son had been elected.

Cr J Smith said he planned to push for the development of Stage Two of the Lark Hill Sportsplex and the establishment of a modern development plan for Port Kennedy.