I was extremely disappointed when I read Mayor West’s comment in the Manning River Times 21/8/2019, attempting to justify the decision by MidCoast Councillors on a vote of 7 to 3 to reject a proposal put forward in a motion by Clr Bell, to give the ratepayers the right to determine whether they should be given the opportunity to elect the Mayor through a popular vote or whether we would entrust the Councillors to continue to elect the Mayor from one of their number.
The decision not to give the ratepayers the right to decide which method they would prefer rocks the very foundation of our democracy. This should never be a case where Councillors refuse the community the right and opportunity to have their say. Mayor West should have been the first to recognise this fact.
Regrettably his statement that the option to elect a mayor by popular vote would be a “disaster” I found most distasteful and an insult to previous popularly elected Mayors of the former GTCC. Mayor West served with these Mayors; the Late Les Brown, the Late Mick Tuck as well as Mayor Loftus and myself, who were all popularly elected.
A public apology for this statement would be appropriate.
Mayor West stood on four occasions in the popularly elected Mayoral Elections for former GTCC. Not once did he ever voice his disapproval of allowing the voters to decide how the mayor is elected.
His statement that you cannot remove a popularly elected Mayor and you are stuck with them for four years is absolutely incorrect.
I’m pretty clear, particularly given the events of the past two years, that the community would have overwhelmingly voted to elect the Mayor rather than trust the Councillors!
First we had the amalgamation forced on us, and now it’s the system of government.
A quick look at the last results on the NSWEC shows that:
At the last council election there were 55,786 formal votes cast and the quota to get elected on to Council was 4,649 votes and only 5 councillors achieved the quota.
Mayor West was elected 9th out of 11 on the 64th count, securing a total of 3,891 group votes or 6.97% of the overall vote .
Our Deputy Mayor was the 10th elected also on the 64th count, and she received 2,539 group votes being a percentage of 4.55%
Little wonder they don’t want a popularly elected Mayor, they would find it extremely difficult to be elected by popular vote.
And who can forget that Cr West was only elected Mayor on the basis of names being drawn out of a hat and eliminated. It had nothing to do with Councillors voting or selecting the right or best person for the job; there were five candidates, it was like a draw in a chook raffle with Mayor West being the major prize winner.
As to Councillor West’s other comments, he clearly is out of touch with community sentiment and modern day democracy.
Paul J Hogan OAM
(This is the full letter from Mr Hogan which was heavily edited in another local newspaper. Ed)