The Editor

Yasss Valley Times


Dear Editor

Has the time arrived for the Yass Valley Council to give consideration to the introduction of the election of our mayor by the means of a vote by the residents and ratepayers rather than by a simple majority of councillors?

Prior to the forced amalgamation of some councils, over thirty councils in NSW had opted for the popular election of their leader.

Popular election can only be introduced by the council deciding by resolution, to conduct a referendum of residents and ratepayers. The September council elections provide a perfect opportunity for such a referendum.

I was a councillor with Queanbeyan City council when a fiercely fought election resulted in the two candidates receiving six votes each with the successful candidate drawn from the hat, a far from satisfactory result. As a direct consequence, I successfully moved a motion to hold a referendum and this was eventually endorsed with over sixty per cent of ratepayers and residents supporting the popular election of the mayor.

Since its introduction in Queanbeyan in the 1970’s, I believe that popular election has been an undoubted success, it has provided stability, a high level of continuity and removed the annual [biannual now} wheeling and dealing and arm twisting amongst competing councillors to gain support for the position…even more importantly the mayor is not beholden to any one councillor for support and the benefit to the wider community is apparent.

While the situation I have outlined does not necessarily apply to the nine-member Yass Valley Council, the popular election would allow candidates to outline policies and a vision for Yass and the whole of Yass Valley and strengthen the role of the mayor in implementing that vision and provide predictability about the direction of Council leadership for the four-year term.

What could be fairer or more democratic than allowing residents and ratepayers to determine how the leader of their community is elected?

What do you think?

Allan McGrath

Yass 2582