MidCoast Council mayor David West said popular vote for the role would be a "disaster"

MidCoast Council mayor David West is not in favour of a popular vote for the role.
MidCoast Council mayor David West is not in favour of a popular vote for the role.

MidCoast Council mayor David West has labelled the option to elect a mayor by popular vote a "disaster".

The issue was put before council at the August 14 ordinary meeting by Cr Kathryn Bell, who pushed to allow voters to decide how the mayor is elected through a notice of motion.

It was defeated seven votes to three.

With the decision to remain with councillors, Cr West said a popular vote could allow for outside influences to make a difference.

"The people need a functional mayor, not someone elected by something like social media," Cr West said.

"You could end up with someone who is elected for their popularity or their notoriety.

"You may have someone elected who doesn't want to serve their community and have little understanding of what local government is about.

"Councillors would have to put up with that person for four years."

A mayor can be elected by popular vote at an ordinary election or by councillors' vote under the Local Government Act (1993).

Under the law, MidCoast Council mayors have a two-year term.

With the next council election in 2020, whoever is elected mayor in one month's time will only hold the role for one year.

"If we have a mayor that turns out to be a dud, they can be removed after two years," Cr West explained.

"If we go down the popularly elected route, that person is in for a four year term."

Cr West said a mayoral vote at an ordinary election would cost about $60,000.

A popularly elected mayor could also bring political motivation into the council, according to Cr West.

He conceded some councillors were linked to the Liberals, Nationals or Labor parties but the current method would ensure the mayor was elected on his/her merits rather than political allegiances.

"They wouldn't be influenced by the State or Federal government so it takes out political bias," Cr West said.

Cr West confirmed he will re-contest the position at the September meeting."I can't see how anyone who has a full-time job already or doesn't work for themselves could be put into the position (of mayor)," Cr West said.

"It's a humbling position, I've been able to meet some of the most beautiful people in the world through this job."