THE mayor of Orange is currently elected each year by the 12 councillors. Do you approve of the direct election of the mayor by the voters of Orange, for a four year term?
That is the question voters will be asked on Saturday when they vote in a referendum to say yes or no to a popularly elected mayor starting from the 2016 election.
For former deputy mayor and councillor Trevor Jaeger the answer will definitely be no.
“These people who are saying elect the mayor by popular vote don’t know what they’re talking about,” he said.
“They’ve never been to a council meeting in their life.”
Currently councillors elect the mayor each year but if voters decide it should be left up to them the mayor’s term will last for four years until the next council election.
Mr Jaeger believes the existing system is the only way to go.
“If the mayor doesn’t perform in 12 months you give it to someone else,” he said.
“[Councillors] choose the person they think has the leadership and the time for the role.”
Outgoing councillor Peter Hetherington led the push for the mayor’s position to be left up to voters’ choice.
“A lot of horse trading goes on every 12 months when the mayoral vote comes up,” he said.
“Instead of concentrating on governance you’ve got [councillors] jostling for position.”
But Mr Jaeger said councillors are best placed to choose the right mayor because they have a good idea of other councillors objectives.
“I know of councils that have elected mayor by popular vote who have regretted it afterwards but don’t want to admit it,” he said.
Cr Hetherington said letting the public choose the mayor would iron out the anomalies of the current system.
“A number of years ago Tim Sullivan one of the great mayors of Orange had a phenomenal vote from the public but couldn’t get the votes in the chamber to get the mayor’s job,” he said.
Mr Jaeger said voters have the opportunity to elect candidates in line with their policies when they choose to run as councillors.
“It’s pretty clear their policies have been stated in the press pretty well,” he said.
“These people who want to elect the popular mayor talk about policies but you could ask them to name the present council and they would be flat out to name three or four names.
“I hope the people have got enough sense to vote no to electing the mayor by popular vote.”
Cr Hetherington said if councillors have the right attitude they should be able to work with a mayor elected by the people.
“When Bill Clinton was president of the United States he was a Democrat and halfway through his term congress had a huge majority of Republicans but he was still able to pass huge bills,” he said.