MARIANNE Saliba has kept Shellharbour City’s top job for another 12 months, while Paul Rankin has also retained the deputy role following a contentious vote last night.
Cr Saliba will serve for a second year as mayor after Shellharbour’s two Liberal councillors Cr Rankin and Kellie Marsh again split the non-Labor vote.
Cr Rankin has also denied making any deal with the Labor Party to keep his deputy position.
Both Liberal councillors nominated for mayor last night, echoing the dramatic events of the 2012 vote.
Cr Saliba was elected mayor with the support of fellow Labor councillors John Murray and David Boyle.
Cr Rankin received support from independent Helen Stewart, while Cr Marsh was supported by independent Peter Moran.
The three Labor councillors supported Cr Rankin in the deputy mayoral vote, which he won 5-2 over Cr Moran.
Cr Rankin denied there was any rift between the Liberal members of the council.
“I just think it came down to numbers again, and I think at the end of the day the numbers showed that it was the same thing that happened last year,’’ he said.
Regarding suggestions Cr Rankin and Cr Marsh may potentially face disciplinary action from their party, the former said he’d received no comment from the Liberal Party.
He also refuted suggestions that running the past two years had essentially gifted the mayoral role to the ALP.
“For the sake of the community we’ve got stability.
‘‘We just keep rolling on now with our projects that we’ve got on the boil.
‘‘People won’t be happy, but that’s the nature of politics.
‘‘(Cr Saliba and I have) had our disagreements, but on the whole we work well together.”
Cr Moran was surprised by the outcome.
‘‘It seems pretty apparent some sort of a deal was made where Paul would split the non-Labor vote and ensure Marianne retained, and in turn was given the deputy job,’’ he said.
‘‘It seems strange.
‘‘Paul has lately come around to a position of opposing the hub.
‘‘However, his actions last night almost guarantee the hub will now go ahead.
‘‘(At a recent meeting) one of the councillors was absent, and four times the mayor used her casting vote to ensure the project goes ahead.”
Cr Rankin denied any deal had ever been struck, saying it would be against party policy. Cr Saliba said she was ‘‘really honoured’’ to be given that role again.
‘‘I think that my role over the past 12 months in the community has been stable in the council, and that we have been moving ahead.
‘‘I’m just going to continue working with my fellow councillors to ensure that continues.”
She said there were some key goals for the next 12 months.
“Moving forward with the marina; we’re moving along in leaps and bounds, and I want to see that continue,’’ she said.
‘‘Our support for small business; I want to ensure that we continue to support small business.
‘‘It’s more than 59 per cent of our workforce, people who work in small business.
‘‘I also want to ensure that we get that retail section down at Shell Cove completed, and also moving ahead with the City Hub.”
Cr Moran said the decision to run for deputy was a last-minute one, after discovering there had only been one nomination.
Cr Marsh told Fairfax Media she was happy to run with the democratic process.
‘‘I wish Cr Saliba the best of luck for the next 12 months,’’ she said.