Eligible voters in Forbes could be electing the Mayor in the next Local Government election in 2020 if a referendum is held to change the current system before then. A petition to Council for a constitutional referendum will start circulating around town this week to get signatures from residents. “We need at least 500 signatures, but aim
for 1,500 to 2,000,” said Duke Jelbart. At the moment the Mayor is voted in by the nine Councillors of the Forbes Shire.
“Shouldn’t the person with the most primary votes be the Mayor,” is a question people had been asking. As a former councillor serving two terms, Duke has received many requests to start the process for change. Once Council has a petition it would have to decide on whether to go to a referendum for a simple yes or no vote for or against a
popular vote for the Mayor.
“It would be quite costly, but if people want the change, Council would have to find the funds in the budget for the referendum,” Duke said. According to Duke the change would empower the community to put the person in who they believe should be Mayor and this would result in more stability as the Mayor would serve the full term of four years.
“Voters would also know from the start of the campaign who is running for Mayor.” Duke said there would be comments that he was doing this to stir as he was not reelected, but added: “I have been talking about this change for six years. Voters feel like they don’t count and we want to make them count.”