Baz pulls off last-quarter thriller

BASIL ZEMPILAS is Perth’s new lord mayor after a three-hour count on last Saturday’s election night.

Five of the eight new councillors are candidates on Mr Zempilas’ ticket, including: 

• Friends’ restaurant proprietor Clyde Bevan;

• East Perth resident and WA Strata Community Association director Catherine Lezer;

• Architect and lord mayoral candidate Sandy Anghie, who scored the highest vote among council candidates;

• Rebecca Gordon, city lawyer, former deputy mayor at Melville and previously a state Liberal candidate for Willagee;

• Viktor Ko, city resident and doctor;

Other new councillors are: 

• Di Bain, also a lord mayoral candidate;

• Liam Gobbert, a town planner and former deputy mayor of Joondalup;

• Brent Fleeton, a former Bayswater councillor who runs the consultancy OverArch which works for businesses needing to deal with government.

The lord mayor and the higher scoring councillors (Crs Anghie, Bain, Gordon, Lezer) got three-year terms until the October 2023 election, while the lower four (Crs Bevan, Ko, Fleeton and Gobbert) have a one-year term until October 2021.

With 27 candidates for council it was a near-run thing: Bruce Reynolds lost out on a council spot by just 14 votes, and previous Perth city councillors Lexi Barton and Reece Harley also missed out.

It was a surprise result for most of Saturday night: One hour after the polls closed at 6pm and with 800 votes counted, Ms Bain had a commanding lead of 39 per cent of the vote, with Mr Zempilas in second place on 23 per cent.

She was still ahead at 8.30pm but the gap had narrowed, 31.8 per cent for Bain and 27.9 for Zempilas.

Mr Zempilas kept pulling ahead and by 9.15pm he won, and he got a final score of 29.44 per cent of the vote with Ms Bain the next nearest contender with 24.94 per cent. 

The result echoes previous elections where the lord mayor’s endorsements appeared to have a big influence: In 2013 all four candidates endorsed by then-lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi won seats. Three of the four lord-mayor endorsed candidates won in 2015, but by 2017 that influence had waned as Ms Scaffidi’s State Administrative Tribunal appeal dragged on.

It was a spending spree of an election with candidates declaring some $134,000 in donations of cash and “in-kind” services like flyer printing, with Cr Bain having the lion’s share of entries on the electoral gift register. If a donor who gave a gift more than $300 has matter before council, the recipient has to declare it and leave the council chamber during discussion and voting.

By DAVID BELL

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