THE scene is set for a four-way battle for Tamworth’s new deputy mayor with three councillors tipped to throw their hats into the ring against incumbent Russell Webb.
Cr Webb quashed speculation he would run for the top job by nominating to run again as Tamworth Regional Council’s deputy. He believes Col Murray, the current mayor, will stand again uncontested.
Cr Webb said that he may face a number of challengers for his post as deputy, and listed Mark Rodda, Helen Tickle and Jim Maxwell as potential opponents .
Mark Rodda yesterday confirmed to The Leader he would be challenging for the deputy mayor’s role.
“I’ve had a discussion with Russell, I have nothing against him in the job and he has done a great job,” Cr Rodda said. “I think it’s important in a democratic sense that the positions are challenged.”
Cr Tickle yesterday did not confirm that she would run for deputy, but said the thought had crossed her mind.
“I fully support the mayor Col Murray,” she said. “The first meeting is September 27, we will wait until then.”
Cr Maxwell said that he wasn’t ruling out a tilt at deputy and was waiting to see who else put their hand up for the position. The Manilla resident said he had the “time and the passion" to give to the job.
Councillors will decide their leaders at their first meeting next Tuesday.
A move to a popularly elected mayor – such as the case of Uralla’s Michael Pearce – has been ruled out for now. “It works well when there is a really good mayor and it can go really badly when there isn’t,” Cr Murray said. “Council can become dysfunctional when the mayor is not backed by the council.”
Cr Murray said having an in-council vote for mayor also keeps the leader more accountable to the rest of the representatives. For the first time, the council-elected mayor in Tamworth will serve a two-year term, which Cr Murray saw as a “a bit of a compromise”.
A change to the way Tamworth chooses its civic leader would need to be brought about by a referendum, but Cr Murray said he hasn’t heard that there was much appetite in the community for a popular vote. Deputy mayor Russell Webb said a popular vote for mayor may be legislated by the state government in the future
“I would guess this would happen in the next one or two election cycles.”