Melbourne incumbent Lord Mayor John So

City of Melbourne
Town Hall
90-120 Swanston Street
Melbourne, 3000
Victoria
Australia



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This is an archived article published in September 2004
Melbourne voters to chose new
Lord Mayor from 21 candidates

In November 2004 voters in the southern Australian city of Melbourne will be electing a new Lord Mayor, Deputy Lord Mayor and seven councillors. The Victoria state capital is one of a few cities in Australia that elects its Lord Mayor by popular vote. Direct elections were introduced in 2001, when John So became the city’s first Lord Mayor voted in by the people of Melbourne. This year in addition to the incumbent, there are 20 other candidates vying for the Lord Mayorship.

Update: John So was re-elected Lord Mayor of Melbourne. On 5 December 2006, John so was named World Mayor 2006.

Mayor Mlonitor for John So: Assess his performance in office

All voting will be by post with ballot papers to be sent out in the second week of November. All votes will have to be returned by 26 November. Each voter will receive two ballot papers – one to elect the ‘leadership team’ made up of the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor, the other to elect seven new councillors.

The leadership team will be elected by preferential voting, with voters putting ‘1’ in the box for their first-choice team, and 2, 3 and so on for the other teams in order of preference. In 2001, Peter Sheppard, President of the Australian Retailers Association, received the highest numbers of first-choice votes but lost out to John So on preferences. The seven councillors will be elected by proportional representation.

In April 2004, Melbourne adopted a caretaker policy for the period leading up to the elections. During the caretaker period, which started on 1 September and continues until 26 November, the city council will avoid actions that could influence voters or make decisions that could unreasonably bind the incoming council.


Melbourne skyscrapers on the River Yarra


Victoria to examine merits of directly elected mayors
The Local Governance Association of Victoria (Australia) will propose changes to the state’s local electoral structure, which would allow for directly elected mayors. At present, only Melbourne has a directly elected mayor. John So, the city’s first mayor with a popular mandate, took office in July 2001 and has confirmed that he will stand for re-election in November 2004. In all other communities in Victoria, a mayor is elected by councillors and serves a one-year term.

Julie Hansen, President of the Local Governance Association believes, that electing mayors by popular mandate offers a more democratic system and leads to higher standards of government. However, critics of directly elected mayors warn that such a system would lead to ‘US presidential-style campaigns’ and favour those with the most money. In the 2001 Melbourne mayoral election, Mayor So allegedly spent AUS$120,000 of his own money, while his nearest rival spent $365,000. The third-placed candidate is said to have spent $200.000.