THE sudden resignation of Peter Lyndon-James from council will effectively cost the City of Swan $55,000, wih the City forced to hold an extraordinary election for his Altone Ward position.
The Western Australian Electoral Commission has recommended the City of Swan hold the extraordinary election on April 12.
Cr Lyndon-James had requested, and received, a six-month leave of absence from Council, from November 22, 2018 until May 7, 2019, to campaign for a seat in the Federal Senate.
Almost one month to the day after that leave of absence began, on December 21, Cr Lyndon-James abruptly cancelled his campaign and quit council.
In a statement, Cr Lyndon-James said he was quitting both the Senate race and Council to focus on his rehabilitation centre, Shalom House.
In the last 18 years, just three City of Swan councillors have quit mid-term with one, Frank Alban, quitting after being elected to the seat of Swan Hills.
The extraordinary election will cost City of Swan ratepayers $55,000, with the City expected to allocate funds from the budgets of Advertising ($10,000), Publicity and Promotion ($10,00) and Conferences and Training ($35,000).
At Wednesday night’s Agenda Forum meeting, several councillors expressed dismay at the timing of Cr Lyndon-James’ resignation.
Councillor David McDonnell queried if the City could not just hold the Altone ward seat vacant until the October Local Government elections.
He added that with the City forced to spend $55,000 on the extraordinary election, Cr Lyndon-James had cost the City $102,000 for 14 months service.
Mayor David Lucas said that under the Local Government Act, the City was to hold an extraordinary election.
He added that he had considered requesting that Local Government minister David Templeman grant the City an exception, but was advised this would be in breach of the Local Government Act.
The Mayor also pointed out that had Cr Lyndon-James sought his advice regarding his resignation, he would have advised the Altone ward councillor to resign at the end of his leave of absence, which would have allowed the City to roll over the election to October.
Nominations for the Altone councillor position could prove interesting.
Echo News understands that several prominent former councillors are preparing to enter the race
The successful candidate will serve out the remainder of Cr Lyndon-James’ term, taking them through to the 2021 elections.
Nominations are expected to open on February 27 and close on March 6, with the election to be held via postal vote.
The City is also considering making changes to its election signs policy, with the most notable being the City can no longer remove election signs on private property for reasons of amenity.
Signs placed on private property with the permission of the land owner or occupier may now only be removed by the City for reasons of health and safety.
In effect, this means a landowner or occupier supporting a particular candidate could place an unlimited number of signs and posts on their property.
Council will make their decision on the extraordinary election, and the election signs policy, at next Wednesday’s meeting.