A CANDIDATE running in tomorrow’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras board elections has withdrawn from the race, saying the vote was “a popularity contest” he couldn’t win.

In an open letter addressed to Mardi Gras members and volunteers, Wayne Martin delivered a stinging appraisal of the organisation, claiming the election process was flawed and favoured candidates already on the board.

“I do not make this decision lightly but do so as I do believe that not only do I have zero chance of winning but that my skills, experience and knowledge appear to be completely irrelevant,” to the election outcome, Martin wrote.

He said the election was a “popularity contest and one which the incumbents always had a better chance of winning”.

The withdrawal follows a decision earlier this month by Mardi Gras to suspend the immediate voting rights of around 150 new members due to a investigation into a number of suspected false membership applications.

Martin criticised Mardi Gras for not delaying the election so all legitimate members could have had the opportunity to vote.

“This decision… does nothing to protect the integrity or reputation of the company and therefore, I no longer wish to be associated with a process and an outcome that appears to be entirely flawed,” he wrote.

He also claimed the use of proxy votes made it “almost impossible” for newcomers to secure an election victory without the board’s support.

Martin, whose official candidate document states he has held a number of senior management positions, said he would have brought significant experience in the voluntary sector and a “proven track record of transforming organisations that are haemorrhaging money”.

He said the current board, “while no doubt all well-meaning volunteers,” were responsible for the latest financial result which saw the organisation lose $177,000 on the 2014 season compared to a near $46,000 profit the year before.

“How long before those who lead our organisation accept some degree of accountability for taking our beloved organisation to the brink of collapse?” he wrote.

Mardi Gras’ senior marketing manager James Rongen-Hall refused to be drawn on Martin’s withdrawal, saying it was a matter for the candidate.

“Right now we’re focused on tomorrow’s election and annual general meeting and ensuring a successful 2015 season,” he told the Star Observer.

Martin’s withdrawal leaves 11 candidates chasing eight board positions, seven of which are current Mardi Gras board members.


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