Just one mayor candidate for Gunnedah Shire Council

Community's candidates: Some of Gunnedah's 2016 councillor candidates before the recent local government election.

Community's candidates: Some of Gunnedah's 2016 councillor candidates before the recent local government election.

Returning Gunnedah councillor Colleen Fuller remains the only councillor to formally signal they are standing for mayor ahead of Wednesday night’s vote.

The roles of mayor and deputy mayor will be decided by secret ballot at the council’s ordinary meeting.

Cr Fuller, who scooped the highest first preference vote at the September 10 election, last week signalled to her intention to nominate for mayor. 

Of the nine Gunnedah councillors, four have so far indicated they will not run for mayor, including John Campbell, David Moses, Murray O’Keefe and Rob Hooke. 

Current mayor Owen Hasler and deputy Gae Swain remain undecided. 

Cr Hooke said, however, that he intended to stand for deputy. 

“I have a huge amount of time,” he said. “[The position] is really about talking to people.”

The intentions of the remaining councillors, Ann Luke and Jamie Chaffey, were not known at the time of going to press.

The vote for the mayoral positions will remain in the hands of councillors for the foreseeable future, with the idea of a popularly elected mayor, such as Uralla, failing to gain traction.  

“The popular person does not always have the best qualifications for the job,” Cr Hooke said. “We need to be mindful of that.”

Cr Swain said that a popular vote could be potentially “counter-productive” to local government outcomes.“They could promise the world and not deliver,” she said.

Cr O’Keefe was also against the idea of a people’s vote for mayor

“I think it’s a bad thing,” he said. “They put it to referendum at Upper Hunter and it was defeated. It’s an extra undue expense.”

Gunnedah Shire Council general manager Eric Groth said whether future mayors would be decided by the community was a decision for elected councillors, who in the past had decided against a referendum. 

Cr Hasler said the issue was discussed unofficially on occasions but no formal recommendations had been received. 

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