By CASEY NEILL
THE Labor Party pulled the strings behind Greater Dandenong’s mayoral election, according to councillor John Kelly.
He labelled his colleagues “a bunch of weak individuals” after his nomination for the mayoral race did not attract a seconder.
But new mayor Sean O’Reilly said the result at the annual statutory council meeting last Thursday, 6 November, was based on merit.
Cr Kelly said he was disappointed that Opposition Leader and Mulgrave MP Daniel Andrews and Monash mayor Geoff Lake instructing councillors how to vote.
“I was hoping that someone might have had the gumption to at least have a debate,” he said.
“Obviously Geoff Lake’s got more power than any of us.
“I’m sure Sean will do a good job – it’s just the way that he got there.”
Cr O’Reilly said the three main contenders for the mayoral role – himself, Cr Youhorn Chea and Cr Peter Brown – were ALP members.
“For that reason, we were on a level playing field,” he said.
He said he was elected because he was open with other councillors.
“I like to think that if no one was in a political party that I would still have been elected on the basis of merit,” he said.
“I believe that the ideas that people present to council should be able to stand up by themselves.”
Cr O’Reilly nominated himself for the mayoral role and Cr Roz Blades seconded the motion.
“It could have gone either way leading up in the final few hours,” Cr O’Reilly said.
“A couple of councillors have said to me that it’s been the most contested mayoral election in their experience.”
Cr Brown was a frontrunner for the position but didn’t put his hand up on the night.
He said he’d met spent 90 minutes chatting with Cr O’Reilly at Springvale’s Waltzing Matilda Hotel on Sunday 2 November.
“Sean and I spoke for about our common goals representing our community and also our common aspirations – one of which is now an achievement for Cr O’Reilly,” he said.
“I got a far greater understanding of Cr O’Reilly the man than I had in two years.
“At the end of the day I thought ‘yeah, I could vote for that bloke’.”