Congratulations to new mayor Rhys Williams, and now the hard work begins

Swearing in: City of Mandurah Mayor Rhys Williams wears the mayoral chains, as councillors look on. Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.
Swearing in: City of Mandurah Mayor Rhys Williams wears the mayoral chains, as councillors look on. Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.

City of Mandurah Mayor Rhys Williams has won a solid victory in Saturday’s local government election, easily dispatching incumbent Marina Vergone (along with two other challengers) and polling more than 50 per cent of the vote.

He ran a strong campaign of renewal and, even though it’s not quite clear how he means to “change Mandurah’s story”, it is good news that we’ll have one.

Although Ms Vergone had good instincts, there were times when she didn’t have the political means to follow them through.

Read more: City of Mandurah mayor and councillors sworn in

She came out strong with a commitment to pursue the long-promised train station in Lakelands, but then backed away when it didn’t have the support of City of Mandurah bureaucrats.

Many Lakelands residents are still astonished the council hedged its bets over the location of the train station and failed to indicate a preference for one in its own City, rather than the state government’s proposed location in Rockingham.

Then Ms Vergone attended the Turnbull Government’s announcement of a Mandurah trial of drug testing for welfare recipients. That was before the rest of the council didn’t like the idea and she equivocated.

Former Mandurah Mayor Marina Vergone attending the announcement of a job seeker drug testing trial earlier this year with social services minister Christian Porter and Canning MP Andrew Hastie.

Former Mandurah Mayor Marina Vergone attending the announcement of a job seeker drug testing trial earlier this year with social services minister Christian Porter and Canning MP Andrew Hastie.

In fact, Ms Vergone’s fundamental political difficulty was that she did not control the numbers on council.

Just about everyone on local government will tell you they are not party political; nonetheless they tend to form up on familiar lines.

The City of Mandurah council is controlled by a left-leaning majority and Ms Vergone is a Liberal.

This runs in Mayor Williams’ favour. Although he may not – in his words – be aligned to a political party, he has certainly attracted significant support from Labor.

Just about everyone on local government will tell you they are not party political; nonetheless they tend to form up on familiar lines.

He has been supported by Mandurah MP David Templeman and photo opportunities with Labor luminaries such as regional development minister Alannah MacTiernan have been regular.

This means he will have the support of his council and will be in a position to mend many of the divisions that have plagued it.

In that regard he has a big task ahead of him.

We congratulate Mayor Williams – and all new councillors – and wish him all the best in the challenges ahead.