INDEPENDENT councillors have broken the ALP’s stranglehold on Maribyrnong Council in an election result full of surprises.
Cameron McDonald, Nam Quach and Grant Miles have won a place on the council, ousting incumbent Labor councillors Sel Sanli and John Cumming.
Former independent councillor Dina Lynch elected not to run.
Labor councillors Michael Clarke, Martin Zakharov and Sarah Carter were all returned along with independent Catherine Cumming.
Yarraville ward went down to the wire, with Mr Miles just pipping Simon Crawford of the Greens and reigning Labor mayor John Cumming to take the third available place.
Cr Cumming was one of about a dozen mayors toppled around the state.
The result was a disappointment for the Greens, with the party failing to take a single seat despite winning about 20 around the state.
Mr McDonald said it was a long and tough campaign, but he was excited by the challenge ahead.
“My priority is to provide value to the residents and the ratepayers of [River] ward. My whole campaign has been focusing on the little things: potholes, footpaths and playgrounds. These are the kinds of things people have been telling me must be a priority.”
Mr McDonald said the four-three majority of independents to Labor councillors would make a big difference to how decisions were made.
“Ultimately, the voters in Maribyrnong wanted a change from party politics. Now there is no party line to be toed.”
Mr Miles said he was “over the moon” to have four independents on council. “We will see a real change in council; we will see a lot more debate about policies. The independents are independent and not beholden to anybody.”
Mr Miles said residents could expect to see more lively debate before decisions were made.
His priorities include multi-storey parking in Footscray and rate reductions for long-term, older residents. He intends to stand down as president of the Footscray Traders Association.
Mr Quach said independents represented the community before any other allegiance.
“It’s taking a different perspective on local governance.” He will focus on community services and safety.
Cr Catherine Cumming said she was delighted to be returned for her sixth consecutive term with 28 per cent of the primary vote.
“It’s definitely a new direction for this community and council; it’s just a shame that there are only two women.”
She predicted the shift to an independent majority would “produce a certain amount of vigour”.
Mr Zakharov, who got the highest primary vote in Yarraville ward at 14.6 per cent, predicts a change in the council’s dynamic. “Labor didn’t vote as a bloc by any means, but it will be a wait-and-see situation to what happens with the mayoral role and to see how everyone can get along.”
Cr Carter, who received the highest number of votes in any ward with 2861, said she was delighted and overwhelmed by the support.
“I’m looking forward to the basics continuing, working on open spaces, footpaths and roads, but also the more strategic things as well.”
Ousted Stony Creek ward councillor Sel Sanli said he was disappointed to have been dropped but was proud of his work while on the council and as mayor.
This included increased spending on capital infrastructure, extended library opening hours and bringing down council debt.
Dumped mayor John Cumming and Cr Clarke had not responded by the time of publication.
The seven councillors will be sworn in tonight and vote to elect a new mayor.
For the latest election results, visit vec.vic.gov.au.
AND THE WINNERS ARE …
Stony Creek ward