VINCENT mayor John Carey has announced his resignation, which will be effective January 30.
As Labor’s candidate for Perth Mr Carey’s up against incumbent Liberal MP Eleni Evangel at the March state election and had previously flagged staying on until its outcome was known.
But with Vincent already having to hold a by-election on February 24 to replace former councillor Laine McDonald, the mayor says his resignation will avoid the need for a costly second by-election or the uncertainty of someone acting in the position for most of the year.
“Had I stayed on later we may have had an acting mayor for an extended time … or the cost of having a third election in the year. I believe it’s the right choice for Vincent ratepayers,” Mr Carey said.
Ms Evangel had called for his resignation in March to prevent conflicts of interest during his campaign, but Mr Carey says there’s been no problems.
“There is a clear code of conduct that guides my behaviour and I have always stuck to that.”
He says he’s running for state because “residents keep raising issues that a mayor can’t fix, issues that are simply being ignored or poorly handled by the current state government.
“I believe we need a change in government. It’s lost its way, there’s a lot of issues that I’ve dealt with at Vincent that is really in the state jurisdiction: That is planning reform and local government reform, and a lot of that is set by the state government.”
While the Opposition has grumbled about development assessment panels giving state-appointed experts the majority say over big developments rolling out across Perth, leader Mark McGowan has stopped short of calling for them to be abolished.
But Mr Carey says if elected he’ll go into the party room calling for the DAPs to be dumped outright.
“My view is abolish them.”
“Particularly for the city of Vincent where we are actually trying to get a better design [for new developments], and I have full confidence in the council that they would be able to assess these larger buildings that are being proposed and not just give away these bonuses.”
Mr Carey wants the transparency and accountability platform he’s pushed at Vincent imposed on all councils, including online registers showing conflicts of interests, meetings with developers, or the pay package details of elected members and senior staff.
Mr Carey said he thought a few major developments marked his time as mayor; ushering in more transparency, sorting out the finances, a slew of liveability improvements like town centre upgrades and bike lanes, and replacing old CEO John Giorgi with new boss Len Kosova.
“The toughest of those three decisions was the change in the CEO,” he says.
“The toughest time was when I first started and led the council through significant reform which has not only led to a new CEO but a new financial director, new planning director, and a new director of community engagement.
He’s had his barneys in his time as mayor, including a year of niggling questions from a couple of local traders from the public gallery, and criticism from former mayor Nick Catania over ending the CEO’s contract and a developer contact register.
He’s also crossed swords with Perth lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi, first over her favoured plan to take over the juicy bits of Vincent during council mergers and then later following a Corruption and Crime Commission report into her failure to declare travel freebies when he called on her to resign.
But he says the occasional detractors in the public gallery haven’t got him down, and he gets good feedback when he’s out manning the mayor’s stall at festivals and events: “People come to council often because they’re deeply concerned by an issue, or perhaps angry, and that’s fair enough, I get that … when you’re actually on a stall and people are coming up to you saying ‘hey great job,’ you realise that’s a small snapshot of a much wider community.”
by DAVID BELL