One vote could decide Mayor

THE job of Shellharbour City Mayor could again come down to one vote next Tuesday night,  with independent councillors likely to make the final call. 

Incumbent Liberal Mayor Kellie Marsh  will go up against Labor counterpart and deputy mayor Marianne Saliba. 

The seven councillors will vote at an extraordinary meeting.

If the three Labor and two Liberal councillors vote along party lines as expected, independents Helen Stewart  and Peter Moran  will again decide who will take the reins for the next 12 months.

At the initial vote following the new council’s election last September, Cr Marsh defeated Cr Saliba 4-3.

Cr Marsh said she thoroughly enjoyed the role and thrived on the diversity of the workload.

‘‘Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be in this position,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m a mum and a community advocate and I’m thrilled the community have put their faith in me.’’

Cr Marsh said her biggest fear on being elected mayor was her inexperience, but she believed this had also been an advantage.

‘‘I was new and I think the community wanted a fresh face,’’ she said.

‘‘I didn’t have any preconceived ideas and wasn’t caught up in past squabbles. I just hope councillors look at my track record for the past 12 months.

‘‘I knew it would be a hard job and have stepped up to the plate.’’ 

Cr Saliba was state Member for Illawarra from 1999-2007 and has served on numerous 

parliamentary committees.

‘‘I feel the city needs good leadership,’’ she said.

‘‘It takes more than saying ‘yes’ to everyone to be a leader.’’

She said the previous Labor-dominated, dysfunctional council was in the past.

‘‘I was not a part of the previous council. We’re not controlled by any political party,’’ Cr Saliba said.

‘‘My style of leadership is very different. I feel it’s important to have a collaborative approach.

‘‘I think she (Cr Marsh) has done as well as she could, given it was her first time on council and going straight in without being experienced as mayor.’’

Both Cr Moran and Cr Stewart were still undecided about their votes.

Cr Moran has already met with Cr Marsh and planned to discuss issues he had with the Labor Party with Cr Saliba.

He believed Cr Stewart would back Cr Marsh, giving him the  deciding vote.

‘‘If I didn’t support Marianne for mayor this year, I’d be almost certain to support her next year,’’ he said.

‘‘The Labor and Liberal parties are the largest voting blocks in the community, and both should have an opportunity to be mayor in this term.’’

Cr Stewart said: ‘‘Kellie was green as grass, but had no political baggage and has learnt a lot. I have to decide who will be the best to lead the city, regardless of politics.’’

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