Council weighs up poll costs

Ellie HoneyboneGeraldton Guardian
City of Greater Geraldton council office.
Camera IconCity of Greater Geraldton council office. Credit: Dominique Bayens, The Geraldton Guardian

Geraldton’s council will today decide whether to spend thousands of dollars to hold extraordinary elections to fill vacancies created by former councillors Renee Ellis and Laurie Graham.

After the disqualification of Cr Renee Ellis earlier this month and Cr Laurie Graham’s successful bid for a seat in the Upper House Agricultural Region, City councillor numbers have dropped to 12.

The council will vote on the executive’s recommendation to postpone an extraordinary election until the date of the ordinary election on October 21.

The Local Government Act states that if the office of a councillor becomes vacant, an election to fill the office is to be held.

According to the City’s agenda forum document, holding an extraordinary postal election on a different day from the ordinary election would be a costly procedure.

Filling Cr Ellis’s vacant position for the Willcock ward would cost about $18,000, while the exact figure for an election in Cr Graham’s Hills ward was unknown at the time of print.

The WA Electoral Commission has advised that if the extraordinary election is held on the same day as the ordinary election, there would be no additional cost for the City.

The City must seek approval from the Electoral Commissioner to postpone an extraordinary election.

When four City of Greater Geraldton councillors contested seats in the March State election, there was a strong possibility a councillor position would need to be filled.

Crs Victor Tanti and David Caudwell were unsuccessful in their bids for the seat of Geraldton, while Cr Lewis Freer failed to gain a seat in the Agricultural Region.

In a separate agenda item scheduled for Tuesday’s meeting, the council will discuss the date and method of the ordinary elections as requested by WAEC.

A vote will be held to declare the Electoral Commissioner to be responsible for the conduct of the 2017 elections and decide if the method will be by postal election.

This month’s City of Greater Geraldton Council meeting will be held at 1.30pm at the Mullewa District Office.

Members of the public are welcome to attend.

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