Barry Calvert has become the Hawkesbury's new mayor by chance after Liberal councillors voted with Labor to deadlock numbers at last night's (Tuesday’s) council meeting.
Labor councillor Calvert put his hand up to run against incumbent independent Mary Lyons-Buckett at the September 18 extraordinary meeting, attracting the vote of Liberals Sarah Richards, Nathan Zamprogno, Tiffany Tree and Patrick Conolly, as well as his Labor colleague, Amanda Kotlash.
Cr Lyons-Buckett found the support of The Greens’ Danielle Wheeler, as well as John Ross, Paul Rasmussen, Emma-Jane Garrow, and Peter Reynolds, who is also Labor’s candidate for the seat of Hawkesbury.
With the votes locked at six-six, it fell to General Manager Peter Conroy to put the two names into a tin and draw out one, with Cr Calvert the lucky candidate.
He said after the vote that no deal had been done between the two major parties to shut out the “progressives”.
“There was no deal. I put my hand up to nominate for the job, and until the hands went up I had no idea how many votes I was going to get,” he told the Gazette. “When the Liberals did not put a candidate up … they voted for me.
“There was no lobbying. I really suspected I would only get two votes, me and Amanda.
“We did not vote with the Liberals, they voted for us.”
While both Cr Calvert and Cr Lyons-Buckett agreed choosing by lot was the only way to decide a deadlocked vote, the latter said it wasn’t ideal.
“It’s not a good way to win or a good way to lose but it’s how it happens,” Cr Lyons-Buckett said after the meeting. “It’s reality and we have to work then with what we have got.”
Cr Lyons-Buckett will become deputy mayor after receiving the most support around the table in a contest that also saw Crs Kotlash and Conolly put their hand up.
“I am happy to be deputy mayor, I will continue working as hard as I have for the community,” Cr Lyons-Buckett said. “I just hope the major parties don’t continue their political games.”
It will be the first time Cr Calvert has become mayor of the Hawkesbury, despite several previous attempts including that against the late Rex Stubbs.
Cr Calvert said his term as mayor would be “all about policy”, as he believed many of the council’s policies were outdated.
“In 1998 … eight or nine policies went through, but in 2018 we only had two. We are not updating the old ones or putting through new ones,” he said. “Many of them are out of date and we need to get rid of them or update them.”
He also said he would work on making Hawkesbury council more cohesive.
“The 12 of us [councillors] have a lot of skills. I don’t see it as my job to do everything, the 12 of us are in it together,” Cr Calvert said.
“There will be things we don’t agree on, and that’s OK. I have invited people to work together.”