By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Four-time mayor Jim Memeti will be emphatically returned, while ex-mayor Maria Sampey has conceded she has lost her seat in the City of Greater Dandenong 2020 elections.
According to early counts, Mr Memeti, of the ALP, has secured a clear majority, more than 61 per cent of primary votes in Dandenong Ward.
The other candidates were Geraldine Gonsalvez (23 per cent), Liaqat Khan (8 per cent) and Fekrat Naser (7 per cent).
Meanwhile, Ms Sampey who has served as councillor since 2000 said: “I’ve lost the election”.
She conceded to fellow ALP member Lana Formoso, who is believed to have provisionally doubled Ms Sampey’s primary vote.
In Cleeland Ward, two-time mayor Angela Long is believed to be leading the primary count but the result will likely depend on preferences.
Counts for Dandenong North, Noble Park and Springvale North wards will begin today (27 October).
Keysborough, Springvale Central and Yarraman wards’ ballots will be counted on 28 October and Keysborough South and Springvale South on 29 October.
Mr Memeti, who served as mayor over the past 12 months, said he’d seek to be re-installed as mayor in the coming year.
He pointed to his experience at the helm given the loss of long-serving councillors Roz Blades, Peter Brown, Youhorn Chea, Matthew Kirwan and Maria Sampey.
“We’ve lost so much experience and having had a really difficult year this year, I’d like to be part of the Covid recovery.”
As part of that support, Mr Memeti pledged to continue the council’s $340,000 Covid material aid program, free on-street parking in central Dandenong and free permits for outdoor dining.
He also pledged to deliver Dandenong Community Hub, a redeveloped Dandenong Oasis aquatic centre, sealing unpaved sections of Dandenong Creek Trail and a toilet for Norine Cox Reserve.
Ms Sampey said her vote had suffered after her own Labor party and Silverton Cricket Club campaigned against her.
Over her 20 year career, she’d advocated for elderly services such as community buses and a seniors dance.
She also successfully lobbied for an after-school and holiday program for autistic children and a ban on Round-Up at the council’s playgrounds.
Some of her last notices of motion were to reconsider the council’s ban on backyard fire pits and for the council to rescind its approval of a controversial waste-to-energy plant in Dandenong South.
“I can still, as a community member, be on the (council’s) positive ageing committee.
“Most councils have a ratepayers association. Maybe I can restart that.”