The votes are counted and The Greens are the biggest losers from the recent local council elections in Waverley. Independents have also missed out, resulting in an outright Liberal majority on the council.
Prior to the September 8 election, the Liberals had four councillors, Labor had three, The Greens had three, and Independents two.
Now the Liberal Party has seven councillors, while Labor’s numbers are unchanged on three and the Greens and Independents have one each.
Mayoral elections will be held on September 27, and Megaphone Oz understands that Councillor Sally Betts will stand unopposed for the Liberal Party. Cr Betts seems sure to resume the position of Mayor on the new look council, with a guaranteed seven of the possible 12 votes.
The last time Cr Betts was Waverley mayor (2008 to 2010) it was a hung council. She won the job after drawing her name out of a hat three years running.
“It’s very exciting to have four sitting Liberals and three newcomers who are relatively young and highly educated. It will enable us to bring a really professional team to council,” Cr Betts said.
It’s the first time in Waverley Council’s history that the Liberals have secured an outright majority.
With an operating budget of $96 million (excluding capital works), Cr Betts said she is looking forward to making some good, long-term plans for the residents of Waverley.
So what happened to the fortunes of Labor? According to incumbent mayor Cr John Wakefield, it was the collapse of the Green vote that saw an increase in both Labor and Liberal votes. He said there was a national swing against the Greens and pinpointed Green disenchantment in Waverley to Marrickville Council’s 2011 endorsement of the Boycott Israel (BDS) campaign.
“There are a lot of Jewish voters in Bondi,” he said.
Cr Wakefield added that a Liberal majority could mean a return to conservatism at the council. But he retains a seat on the council and his wife is expecting their third child in a few weeks. “It’s good to have options,” he said.
Miriam Guttman-Jones, the only remaining Independent councillor, is looking forward to getting on with council business. Cr Guttman-Jones said that over the past four years she held the balance of power in the hung council and received a lot of abuse from whichever side of politics she did not support.
“Whilst it may now be difficult to get certain things through council, it will be refreshing to represent the community without the abuse,” she said.
Cr Guttman-Jones said we’ll have to wait and see whether the newly-elected Waverley Council will be a change for the better.