COUNCILLOR Russell Turner has blamed an 11th-hour backflip by Greens councillor Neil Jones for his decision not to stand for mayor at a meeting on Thursday night.
In a development that took many councillors and residents at the meeting by surprise, Cr Turner did not nominate to force a ballot between himself and mayor John Davis.
Cr Davis was duly elected unopposed, but Cr Turner was adamant yesterday he would have made a better mayor.
After Cr Jones told him, just hours before the vote, he could not count on him Cr Turner decided not to stand as a protest against the wheeling and dealing.
As late as 5pm on Thursday night Cr Turner thought he had the numbers to tie the vote in the 12-member chamber, with the support of councillors Brown, Munro, Kidd, Gander and Jones.
In this situation the usual procedure would be to draw the winner from a hat.
“I had a number of conversations with Neil [Cr Jones] about a number of issues and he said ‘you’ve got my support’,” Cr Turner said.
“Politics got in the way and I’ve been let down.”
Cr Turner said Cr Jones told him two hours before the election he had withdrawn his support.
“Somebody got to him,” Cr Turner said.
“When it came down to the crunch ... he didn’t have the courage.”
Cr Jones said he withdrew his support because Cr Turner led him to believe he was opposed to the Macquarie pipeline.
Cr Jones said Cr Turner was not opposed to the pipeline. He said dirty politics did not factor into his decision.
"I hope Russell will see being mayor isn't the be all and end all," he said.
Cr Jones said a mayor drawn from a hat would be the worst outcome.
"I believe it would exacerbate the differences," he said.
Cr Turner said once he realised he did not have the support he decided not to stand for mayor as a protest against political persuasion in local government.
He said he protested in support of those who supported him.
Cr Jones said he had never used party politics to influence his actions on council.
Cr Turner said it was clear from reactions from the general public that the community wanted a change in mayor.
"From all the support I have received from people on the streets it indicates the majority wanted a change in direction of the council," he said
.Cr Jones said if there had been a vote for mayor he may have abstained.
"John's done a good job on a number of policy issues but I am opposed to the pipeline and the pipeline is a strong position for John Davis,"
Cr Jones said Cr Turner said he was disillusioned by the council.
"I've had kicks in the past," he said."I'll pick myself up."
Cr Turner said he would attempt to remove the political fractions.
"It will take time but I will always vote on merits and not on politics," he said
.He said his decision not to stand for mayor was an apology to the rate payers who voted for him.
"They desired a change, John (Cr Davis) has his good points and has his supporters," he said.
"It was clear to me that John wasn't pleasing everyone."
Cr Turner received 1,369 first preference votes against Cr Davis' 862 at the election. Cr Reg Kidd received 2,253.