Gore’s deputy mayor could be on borrowed time as the majority of his fellow councillors want him replaced, but the man who appointed him has his back.
Gore Mayor Ben Bell appointed secondterm councillor Stewart MacDonell as deputy this month. However, seven of the Gore district’s other 10 councillors have filed to have him removed via a requisition.
Council chief executive Stephen Parry, who signed the document as being received at 4pm last Tuesday, said even though it was Mr Bell’s right to appoint Cr MacDonell, the deputy mayor had to have the support of the majority of councillors to retain office.
Cr MacDonell told The Ensign he did not want to get political about the issue.
‘‘We need to resolve this among ourselves.’’
In a press release sent out on Monday afternoon, Mr Bell said it was disappointing to have Cr MacDonell’s appointment challenged in such a short space of time.
‘‘I consider Cr MacDonell a respected and capable member of our team, who is committed to getting good things done in our community.’’
When announcing Cr MacDonell’s appointment on November 9, he said he was confident in his leadership skills and financial experience, noting his position as Gore Rotary Club president.
‘‘[He] will be more than capable in helping me lead the Gore District Council in the direction our community needs.’’
However, that view does not seem to be shared by councillors Richard McPhail, Bronwyn Reid, Paul McPhail, Bret Highsted, Joe Stringer, Neville Phillips and Glenys Dickson, who all signed the requisition to have Cr MacDonell removed as deputy mayor.
In a joint statement on Friday, they said the decision came ‘‘after much deliberation and attempts to work collaboratively to provide the best governance structure for our community’’.
‘‘We believe our new mayor deserves strong support and guidance. Unfortunately, we have had to take this course of action to achieve that.’’
Cr Phillips said the seven councillors had only the interests of the district at heart.
‘‘This is no underhanded thing or power play to undermine Ben whatsoever.’’
However he wanted to express his reasons for signing the requisition publicly in an open forum.
Whether he will get that chance remains to be seen.
Though an extraordinary council meeting is scheduled to take place on December 15 for councillors to vote on the removal of Cr MacDonell, Mr Bell said in Monday’s press release that they would meet before then ‘‘to reflect on the challenge of deputy mayor’’.
‘‘I will refrain from commenting further on the deputy mayor’s position until we have had that conversation as a team.’’