With Melbourne’s longest serving mayor, John So, handing over the reins, Melburnians may be able to elect the city’s first ever gay mayor.
Openly gay Deputy Lord Mayor, Gary Singer, has signalled he’s not ruling out running for the top job, and says he will make a firm decision in the coming weeks.
Lord Mayor John So surprised many last week, ruling himself out of the race for the upcoming Melbourne City Council elections due to be held on the last weekend in November.
In an emotional speech the controversial and larger-than-life So said he would not be contesting a third term in office, having held the position since 2001.
In 2007 Cr Singer had a pivotal role implementing the Relationship Declaration Register, allowing opposite and same-sex couples to formally register their relationship in the inner Melbourne municipality. It remains the first relationship register of its kind in the state of Victoria.
-œI’m proud of being able to say I put that initiative into action to get it going and to win support, Singer told Southern Star.
-œIt’s important for the [gay] community because depending on who’s in the seat, things can quickly change.
Singer said he hopes proposed state government legislation to bring in a state-wide relationship register would -œput us out of business.
The Victorian parliament has already passed the Relationships Bill 2007 which is due to be implemented late this year which will allow all Victorian couples access to register their relationship.
Cr Singer says he remains -œundecided as to whether he will stand for the top job after a -œtough four years.
Although taking a leading role in setting up the relationship register in Melbourne, Singer has not been shy of controversy during his time as councillor. This year he has been investigated by Melbourne City Council for his use of ratepayer-funded staff for political purposes to attack fellow councillors.
His use of council cars has also come under fire with a reported $7000 in damage done in less than three years.
In 2005 Singer, a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court, resisted pressure to step away from his post after it was revealed he was found guilty in 1999 for grossly overcharging a client and in another matter was fined for financial misconduct.
Confirmed candidates for the mayoralty to date include the Greens’ Adam Bandt and Labor member Will Fowles.
Heslop reconsiders Melbourne mayoralty
Charity leader and former NSW political staffer Andrew Heslop, a Sydney-based Melburnian, is considering standing for the Melbourne mayoralty following the shock news incumbent Lord Mayor John So will not contest his position.
Approached to run by a group of individuals from the corporate sector, Heslop -” founder of the UN-recognised Neighbour Day and former staffer for former NSW Deputy Premier John Watkins -” had not initially taken the suggestion seriously. With a level playing field open to him though, the possibility is getting stronger with the openly gay Heslop confirming he has started considering running mates.
-œLast week when I was asked about whether I would consider it I was happy working for the NSW government but I’m not going to do that anymore, so I’ve changed my perspective on what I might do, Heslop told Southern Star, without officially committing to running.
-œCircumstances also changed again after John So decided against running again. So, I think, ran Melbourne very successfully. He brought a great deal of harmony, certainly to council functions, and the city has done some spectacular things under him Â-” hosted the Commonwealth Games -” and the city is looking good.
-œBut I can see an opportunity to build on that and that’s what I’m now thinking about -” do my skills or the things that I’ve done in my career have some sort of ability to further enhance the city.
Heslop has until October 28 to nominate for the mayoralty. Though he has not yet committed, he did admit that he had begun drawing up a list of possible deputies.
-œAt the moment I don’t have a running mate, which is something I would need to consider, he said.
-œI’ve started to think about people that I’ve worked with at a senior level, who might have the experience needed, but no, I can’t mention any names at this point.
-œI would need to find someone who was absolutely passionate about Melbourne, because if I decide to stand I am doing it because I believe in the city, although at this point in time I don’t think I would have a serious chance of winning.