Call for public to vote on mayors

The public should be given the power to hire and fire its mayors, a south-west councillor says.

Corangamite Shire councillor Simon Illingworth said most council leaders were elected by the majority vote around the council table, rather than by the public.

“This system is undemocratic, lacks accountability and... (is) inadequate when you consider most shires now have budgets anywhere from $50 million to $600 million-plus,” he said. Cr Illingworth said proposed reforms to the Local Government Act should change the mayor’s position to a public vote, as is the case in the City of Melbourne.

“I’m surprised democratically-elected mayors wasn’t part of the Kennett government amalgamated councils policy, meaning every mayor would be forced to prove their capacity to lead,” he said.  

“This forces mayors and councillors to unveil their ‘political flavour’… Voters can choose. And after four years they can hire or fire.

“That fact alone would certainly sharpen the mind of every elected councillor and mayor, and that can only be a good thing.”

While Cr Illingworth is keen for publicly-elected mayors across the state, Geelong City Council is likely to move away from that system.

Directly-elected mayors were introduced to Geelong in 2012. The council was sacked last year and a citizen’s jury has now recommended the mayor be elected by councillors and serve a two-year term, with 11 councillors elected from across four wards.

Corangamite Shire councillor Simon Illingworth. Picture: Rob Gunstone

Corangamite Shire councillor Simon Illingworth. Picture: Rob Gunstone