MARIANNE Saliba has retained the role of Shellharbour mayor for the second time in three weeks, following another controversial vote last week.
Cr Saliba was re-elected mayor at an extraordinary Shellharbour City Council meeting last Tuesday night.
The meeting was called by general manager Michael Willis after concerns were raised that the previous mayoral vote on September 17 did not comply with local government regulations.
At the September 17 meeting, Cr Saliba received three votes; Liberal councillors, deputy mayor Paul Rankin and Kellie Marsh got two votes each.
Last week, Cr Saliba was re-elected by four votes to two over former mayor Cr Marsh, with Cr Rankin choosing not to stand.
Cr Saliba had the support of Labor colleagues, Cr John Murray and Cr David Boyle, as well as independent councillor Helen Stewart, who previously backed Cr Rankin.
Cr Marsh was supported by Cr Peter Moran, but Cr Rankin abstained from the vote.
Both Cr Moran and Cr Marsh unsuccessfully lobbied Cr Stewart to stand for mayor.
Cr Moran was surprised Cr Stewart chose not to run, claiming she may have had the numbers.
Cr Moran said he would have voted for Cr Stewart had she decided to stand.
"It was big of Kellie to say she would support Helen; a big ask on her part," Cr Moran said.
"My view is that the top job should not just be in one major grouping for the lifetime of this council."
Cr Moran was also "surprised and disappointed" by the result, namely Cr Rankin's decision not to vote.
"It's one of the most important decisions council makes every year," he said.
Cr Rankin expected his decision would confirm his suspension from the Liberal Party.
He was already facing suspension after breaking a written agreement when he stood for mayor on September 17.
"I've heard it from independent sources, nothing official," he said.
"After abstaining, I imagine it (the process) will quicken up."
Cr Saliba said she requested the extraordinary meeting, primarily to remove any doubt about the legality of the mayoral position.
"I was concerned, as I sign documents that are legally binding, which could be open to be challenged," she said.
"I wanted to ensure that any of my opponents [could not claim] I was holding a position I didn't rightfully earn."
However, Cr Saliba remained in favour of the prospect of a popularly-elected mayor.
"I proposed some time back that we prepared a report on the costs associated with a referendum. That was defeated by my colleagues.
"I believe the people of Shellharbour City have a right to say who leads them."
Cr Saliba acknowledged the majority of the most current councillors were against the move.
'The problem can be, when you change the mayor regularly, it can be disruptive to the council and other organisations externally where the mayor has a role."
Cr Stewart could not be reached in time for publication.
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