Cliffhanger challenged in Vincent

ONE vote saw candidate Ross Ioppolo elected in Vincent’s south ward, with a formal challenge of the results now underway from nearest contender Joshua O’Keefe.

There were two spots going in south ward and incumbent Jonathan Hallett eased back in with 1,437 votes, followed by Cr Ioppolo with 979 and Joshua O’Keefe with 978.

Two weeks before the election Mr O’Keefe had implored supporters to vote, saying in a social media post: “Seats on council have been won by one vote before.”

After Saturday night’s count was tallied, returning officer Jennifer van den Hoek phoned the WA Electoral Commission for advice given how close the count was, before announcing the result that Crs Hallett and Ioppolo had won. Mr O’Keefe wasn’t at the count and no one lodged an objection before the result was announced.

The day after the count Mr O’Keefe publicly announced he wanted a recount, but has since stated a fresh election may be necessary as he’s not satisfied ballots were kept secure after the first count.

“Although I am not taking anything away from the top two candidates I am taking formal action to have the south ward recounted immediately,” he said. 

“It is unacceptable for that not to be an automatic step. It should have been ordered to happen today and it wasn’t. 

“I’ve asked for urgent advice from the CEO of Vincent and the returning officer what the options are given how tight the margin is.”

On Monday Mr O’Keefe lodged an “invalidity complaint”, which goes to a Court of Disputed Returns and he has a hearing date next month. The court has the power to call for a fresh election, or to declare a different candidate should have been elected. That declaration then goes out in a public notice and the local government minister decides what to do next.

North ward race was more decisive with new candidates nabbing two of the three available seats: Ron Alexander, a former footballer who was CEO of the WA sport and recreation department for 19 years, and Suzanne Worner, GM of Revelation Perth International Film Festival who runs UpBeat Events. 

Cr Worner had campaigned along with incumbents Alex Castle and Joanne Fotakis. 

Cr Castle was returned with 1,821 votes, Cr Alexander got 1,755, Cr Worner got 1,564, and Ms Fotakis missed out on getting back in with 1,380 votes. There were three spots because Sally Smith retired two years into a four-year term, so Cr Worner gets a mini two-year term. 

Councillors were sworn in on Tuesday October 19 and councillors voted Cr Susan Gontaszewski deputy mayor for another term. 

by DAVID BELL

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