Marianne Saliba has been re-elected Shellharbour mayor after another dramatic evening at Shellharbour City Council.
Cr Saliba defeated Kellie Marsh by four votes to two, with Cr Marsh’s fellow Liberal councillor Paul Rankin abstaining.
Tuesday night’s vote came in extraordinary circumstances and just three weeks after Cr Marianne Saliba was re-elected mayor.
Shellharbour City Council’s general manager Michael Willis ordered the mayoral vote be held again on Tuesday night after concerns were raised that the September 17 mayoral vote was ‘‘not conducted strictly in accordance’’ with local government regulations governing mayoral votes.
At the September 17 vote, Mayor Marianne Saliba was re-elected with three votes, ahead of the two Liberal councillors Paul Rankin and Kellie Marsh who received two votes each.
The Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 states that if there are three candidates, the one with the lowest number of votes is to be excluded, with a further vote to be taken with just the two candidates.
Mr Willis said on September 17, when Cr Marsh and Cr Rankin were tied on two votes each, both their names should have been ‘‘placed in a draw by lot’’ to eliminate one of them, before a further show of hands for the two remaining candidates for the office of mayor.
Former Shellharbour City Councillor Don Briggs confirmed he had made a complaint to the council over the way the September 17 mayoral vote was conducted.
‘‘I watched the vote and Marianne Saliba was elected with three votes, but four didn’t vote for her which meant she didn’t win.
‘‘I passed this information on to the general manager and he said he would review the decision after an internal review.
‘‘I don’t blame the councillors, this was a bureaucratic error ... we can’t have an un-popularly elected mayor.
‘‘We may well have the same person elected, but at least it will have been done democratically and done right.
‘‘Shellharbour council claims to be open and transparent and in this case they were neither.’’
Cr Saliba said it was an ‘‘unfortunate situation’’, but along with Cr John Murray requested Tuesday night’s special meeting to get the issue resolved.
Cr Saliba was re-elected Shellharbour mayor last month with the support of her two fellow Labor councillors, Cr John Murray and Cr David Boyle.
Shellharbour’s two Liberal councillors, Cr Rankin and Cr Marsh, both challenged for the position, splitting the non-ALP vote with independent Cr Helen Stewart voting for Cr Rankin and Cr Peter Moran backing Cr Marsh.
Cr Rankin was subsequently elected deputy mayor with the support of the ALP councillors.
The outcome mirrored the dramatic 2012 mayoral vote which saw Cr Saliba replace Cr Marsh as mayor.
Cr Rankin is facing a suspension or even expulsion from the Liberal Party over his decision to stand for mayor, a move labelled ‘‘treacherous’’ by some Liberal Party members.
Cr Marsh said by standing, Cr Rankin broke a written agreement drawn up between the Liberal Party’s head office and ‘‘local’’ party members.