Armidale mayor faces vote of no confidence
The majority of Armidale's councillors have signed a petition calling for the mayor to step down, and an extraordinary meeting of council has been called for Friday to deal with a vote of no confidence.
Councillor Margaret O'Connor gave notice of her intention to move the motion this week.
It was supported by councillors Jonathan Galletly, Debra O’Brien, Dorothy Robinson, Andrew Murat, Peter Bailey, and Ian Tiley.
Cr O'Connor said there are internal concerns which are based on the wellbeing of the whole community that has culminated in the motion.
"It is a matter between councillors and the mayor, and it is not a matter for public debate," she said.
"We don't wish to load up any blame or shame around this.
"All I can say, we will do our best to be transparent. We are determined that this will not be a public witchhunt."
Cr O'Connor said there had been certain matters that have arisen which have shifted the position of some councillors.
"The vote at the time [of the September 2019 mayoral election} was six - five, and there are seven signatures now," she said.
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"It would be safe to read in that, that things have happened."
Mayor Simon Murray said two councillors had approached him before the motion was submitted to inform him of the decision.
"They have raised a number of points, as far as I could see, listening to the two councillors, there was nothing very substantial," he added.
"There was a lot of discussion about matters of operation."
Cr Murray said one example included when the CO organised business symposiums, and that Cr Murray said he was told that should have gone to the council.
"Well, it was actually in our operation plan which council had adopted," he said.
"So it was an operational matter; it did not have to go back to the council."
Cr Murray said he was saddened by the decision to hold this meeting, in particular when there are only eight months until the next local election.
"According to the act, I cannot see how they remove me," he said.
"They can have a vote of no confidence, but as far as I can see, there is no way in which they can vote out a mayor."
The move has angered businessman John Cassidy who said he was shocked by the call to dump the mayor, especially when it is so close to the council elections in September.
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"This move by some disgruntled members of council flies in the face of reason and reality," he said.
“I am dismayed that some councillors appear to be putting their interest and ambitions above that of the community.”
According to Mr Cassidy, the mayor has more than proven himself a competent and capable leader since being first elected to the post in 2017 and again re-elected only four months ago.
“Mayor Murray has shown the positive leadership required to deal with the many
issues he, and the new Armidale Regional Council, inherited," he said.
“Many business leaders in our community were horrified with some of the commercial decisions that had been made by the previous two councils."
In response to Mr Cassidy, Cr O'Connor said although he is entitled to his views, she denies that this has come from a place of disgruntlement.
"This has been carefully thought over to advance the community including the business community," she said.
"We ask the community to now trust us and cooperate in the sense of not overreacting. Be assured that this is not about personal ambition."