What happens when a Popular Mayor drifts from popularity
Eurobodalla residents and ratepayers went to the polls in in 2004 to vote for their councillors. In July that year a bi-election saw them vote in a referendum that would set in place a separate ballot for the Eurobodalla Mayor in the next election four years later in 2008. Almost two-thirds of Eurobodalla voters backed the plan to reduce the number of councillors from nine to eight, with a mayor elected directly by popular vote. While the cost of a separate election is understood to be in the order of an additional $100,000 it was put forward at the time that having a four-year term mayor gave stability and continuity. Up until that time councillors selected the mayor from their own number. Often that choice was due to factionalism and favouritism with little bearing on who might be the best candidate. Eurobodalla's first popularly elected Mayor was Fergus Thomson in 2008. Next came Lindsay Brown in 2012 and then Liz Innes in 2016. The difficulty in having a popularly elected mayor for four years is that it is locked in for four years. But what happens if a popularly elected mayor, elected on promises and mandates, fails to deliver or perform. What if a popular mayor falls from grace? There is a mechanism that, under referendum, the community could vote to go back to the old ways. That doesn't look to be on the cards in the Eurobodalla though. A council can decide to conduct a constitutional referendum. If the constitutional referendum is passed, the result takes effect at the next local government elections. There is no indication that Eurobodalla will be running a referendum in September 2021. Due to Covid the 2020 Local Government elections were postponed until September 2021. Our Councillors will return to work on February 9th for their first Council meeting of 2021. In all there will be ten meetings before they step down for the next election. But the electioneering has already begun with a myriad of promises, all too many handshakes, and fortunately for Covid, very little in the way of baby kissing. The question remains though. What happens if we vote in a sausage roll for a Mayor, a pork pie, a damp hand, an inept Wally? And what if we vote in a flock of lame ducks, a useless batch of Humpty Dumptys? Fortunately we still have the Council senior staff to rule the roost and to carry on in delivering Roads, Rates, Rubbish and Regulations aided by the rubberstamps of the elected of the day. So don't be surprised if you start to see electioneering by current councillors and prospective candidates.