Shellharbour council unmoved on mayor vote

Shellharbour City councillors have reinforced their opposition to having a popularly elected mayor, despite a review panel recommending local government areas with more than 40,000 people directly elect their civic leader.

The NSW Local Government Review Panel made the recommendation in January when it released the Revitalising Local Government report, adding that where mayors were elected by councillors, the minimum term should be two years.

In January Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba said the recommendation meant she would continue to push for her position to be popularly elected.

However with Cr Saliba absent from last week's council meeting, the remaining six councillors unanimously supported a motion that the council reiterate its opposition to the compulsory election of mayors by electors.

Cr Peter Moran said in an area of 40,000 people a determination on the mayor could be made just as well by councillors as the broader population.

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"In a population the size of the Shellharbour local government area the vast majority of people would not personally know any of the contenders," Cr Moran said.

"Their only knowledge of the candidates would be through the media and anecdotal discussion ... it is not necessarily a bad thing, but not necessarily a good thing either."

In January last year a mayoral minute by Cr Saliba called for a report on the costs associated with holding a referendum on the issue, but the motion was defeated 4-2.

Despite the council's motion last week, Cr Saliba said it was still her view the people should decide who was their mayor.

"If it is good enough for the residents of Wollongong it is good enough for the people of Shellharbour," Cr Saliba said.

"It is really unfair we are treated differently.

"I still most sincerely believe the people of Shellharbour are the best ones to decide, not the seven councillors. Councillors don't always know who is best, especially when a new council is first elected."

Cr Saliba said the fact Shellharbour residents had the right to select their mayor taken away was "undemocratic" and potentially changing mayors every 12 months was "disruptive".

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