Cr Keith Rhoades was left frustrated by the response from the Office of Local Government.
Cr Keith Rhoades was left frustrated by the response from the Office of Local Government.

’Disappointing’: Council to write to Minister on by-election

Coffs Harbour City Council will write to the Minister for Local Government to express its disappointment that it will not be able to hold a by-election to fill the vacancy left by former councillor Jan Strom.

Ms Strom's absence since March last year has created an ongoing problem in council meetings regarding the potential for tied votes.

This means it will be another 14 months before an ordinary election is held, and the position can once again be filled.

At last night's meeting councillors voted unanimously to write to Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock, as well as Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh.

Cr Keith Rhoades expressed his frustrations that councils were not consulted on the issue, and that options such as conducting by-elections online were not explored.

 

The vacancy left by former Cr Jan Strom has created an ongoing issue regarding the potential for tied votes.
The vacancy left by former Cr Jan Strom has created an ongoing issue regarding the potential for tied votes.

 

"It is disappointing the NSW Government did not liaise with councils in NSW to get their view and opinion on what should happen particularly in relation to the conducting of by-elections," Cr Keith Rhoades said.

"But it's also the fact that we want to stay under the log and cover ourselves up and not try to move forward by exploring new ways.

"What an opportunity it would be to investigate whether or not we could do it by electronic means - we've got to get there one day."

During the discussion, Cr Tegan Swan asked the question of whether a previous council candidate could fill the position.

General Manager Steve McGrath however confirmed this was not an option.

He explained that at the first ordinary meeting of council following an election, a motion is passed stating that if there is a vacancy in the first 18 months of term it can be filled by the individual who would have been the next councillor elected.

However, he said this was not an option after the 18 month period had lapsed.

"The only option available to council beyond that is either a by-election or to wait for the next ordinary election, given the Minister has not given consent to have a by-election," he said.



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