Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba still believes Shellharbour City should have a mayor elected by the people, after retaining the role for the second time in three weeks.
Cr Saliba was re-elected mayor at an extraordinary Shellharbour City Council meeting on Tuesday night, a meeting called by general manager Michael Willis after concerns were raised that the previous mayoral vote on September 17 did not comply with local government regulations.
At the September 17 meeting, Cr Saliba received three votes, with Liberal councillors Paul Rankin and Kellie Marsh getting two votes each.
In the latest vote, Cr Saliba was re-elected by four votes to two over former mayor Kellie Marsh, with Cr Rankin choosing not to stand.
Cr Saliba had the support of her two Labor colleagues, Cr John Murray and Cr David Boyle, as well as independent councillor Helen Stewart, who previously backed Cr Rankin.
Cr Marsh was supported by Cr Peter Moran, but not her fellow Liberal Paul Rankin, who abstained from the vote.
Cr Rankin expects his decision to abstain to seal his fate with the Liberal Party. He was already facing a suspension from the party after breaking a written agreement when he stood for mayor on September 17.
Cr Rankin said he was expecting a three-year suspension.
‘‘The mail I’m getting is a decision was reached by the party on Friday, but I am still waiting for that to come through,’’ Cr Rankin said.
Tuesday night’s meeting began at 6.30pm, but Cr Marsh only lodged her nomination at 6.33pm with both Cr Moran and Cr Marsh lobbying Cr Stewart to stand for mayor.
Cr Moran said he would have voted for Cr Stewart had she decided to stand.
‘‘That would have guaranteed her three votes and she probably would have got one from Paul,’’ Cr Moran said. ‘‘Helen could have had the job if she chose to. I was surprised she knocked it back and let Marianne have it again.’’
Cr Rankin said he believed Cr Stewart would make ‘‘a great mayor’’.
‘‘I would definitely consider that option,’’ Cr Rankin said.
Meantime, Cr Saliba said she would continue to push for a referendum on the way Shellharbour elected its mayor, but was mindful the majority of the current councillors were against the move.
Cr Saliba said, having attended the NSW local government conference last week, there were mixed views on how mayors were elected.
‘‘I am a great believer in allowing the community to have a say, but this method does create an opportunity to replace someone after 12 months if they are not doing a good job, which you don’t have with a popular mayor.’’
She said she was not changing her position.
‘‘The problem can be, when you change the mayor regularly, it can be disruptive to the council and other organisations externally where the mayor has a role.’’