Why did Everything Geraldton post that question about getting rid of the Mayor?
Does Jason from EG hate Shane?
What's going on?
Jason Smith from Everything Geraldton clearly doesn't understand the law!
Ok folks, here's the question that was posted:
Your say: Do you support removing the position of Mayor completely from the City of Greater Geraldton to save money, given the predominately ceremonial nature of the position and the fact that it costs ratepayers more than 3 councillors?
So does the leading nature of that question imply Jason Smith from Everything Geraldton actually wants to get rid of the Mayor?
No. I don't want to get rid of the position of Mayor.
And no, I'm not enemies with Shane Van Styn. I quite like Shane. Shane knows this. But that's irrelevant. I'm not going to stop questioning his actions because I like him.
Now, some of you know that Shane Van Styn has recently started posting things online to suggest that council could or should reduce the number of councillors in the near future.
I know most of these people who serve on council. I believe they all work hard to serve the community. I also see them debating each other in the council chamber, and I cannot see how the small cost saving that getting rid of a few of them would give us would make up for their loss.
I mean, technically we could do the job with just a handful of councillors. But would we have more robust debate in the chamber? Would more ideas spring forth from our elected representatives? Would the accountability that they hold each other to be higher or lower?
Technically you could also get rid of the Mayor and save a hundred grand or so each year. Sure, you'd have to get the state government to change a few laws, but essentially one of the councillors could chair the meetings, and the other councillors could all take turns going to all the events the Mayor goes to.
Do I think that's a good idea? No! It's a stupid idea. The position of Mayor serves a lot of purposes.
And I also think we get value out of all of our councillors. Which was the point of the question.
So the answer to do I think we should get rid of the Mayor's position is an emphatic no, and the answer to do I think we should cull some of our councillors, who also work hard and provide value to residents, is also no. I don't see them as less valuable than the Mayor.
And as much as I love Shane, and genuinely think he's doing what he thinks is best for the people of Geraldton, I've watched when councillors have stood up to him and disagreed with him on different matters, and I think they need their numbers to be able to continue that when required.
You don't need to point out that the decision is not up to me. Ultimately the councillors themselves will need to decide on their own future, and that of future councils.
Shane ran on a platform of reducing the council's responsibilities. And I'm sympathetic to that view. I don't understand why some councils try to discover fusion energy with ratepayer funds. But I don't see the concept of "small goverment" as meaning small in physical number of elected representatives. It's meant to mean small in scope of services provided by government. Besides, just a decade ago what is now covered by just the CGG councillors, was previously covered by Geraldton, Greenough, and Mullewa councillors. Plus our population was lower. So we already have drastically reduced the level of representatives, AND we've increased the population. It's hard for me to see why we need further reductions.
If it's arguable that the position of Mayor is well worth the money we spend, I'd say so are the councillor's positions. Just because you always see Shane's face on all the Facebook posts about things happening in Geraldton, doesn't mean he's the only one working to make the good stuff happen. Not that he claims that to be the case. In the comments of the post in question, the Mayor publicly gave credit to all the councillors, saying that all of them together is what allowed them to achieve great things.
Which is my point.
Together. All of them.
Let's keep the Mayor, and consider keeping all the councillors too. Their small cost is a tiny price to pay for the extra accountability they provide.