Photo: Tanya Richardson, City of Swan Mayor.
The City of Swan has welcomed its first popularly elected Mayor after an historic election that delivered a new-look Council with greater diversity.
Tanya Richardson, who has represented Pearce Ward since 2019, was declared the winner of a close mayoral contest at the Midland Town Hall on Thursday.
Mayor Richardson is a nurse, a former Australian Army Reserve medic and a mother of four who lives in Guildford.
She finished the count with 10,212 votes after preferences, ahead of Ian Johnson (9,661), who was comfortably re-elected in Midland/Guildford Ward.
With the introduction of optional preferential voting and a popularly elected mayor, the vote count was expected to take longer than usual, especially with a field of 10 mayoral candidates.
However, the results were only declared late on Thursday afternoon, six days after polls closed.
The Western Australian Electoral Commission, which the City appointed to run the election, ordered two recounts of the mayoral vote because of counting “discrepancies”.
The City has been assured its ratepayers will not bear the costs of the delays.
This year’s voter participation rate was about 30 per cent, the highest in six years.
Mayor Richardson is the City’s first female Mayor, following in the footsteps of the late Margaret Kidson, who was the only female president of the Shire of Swan. Swan became a City in 2000.
The new Council will have more female members than males.
The election also delivered an injection of youth, with two of the successful candidates aged in their 20s.
In Whiteman Ward, 21-year-old Haeden Miles won his seat on preferences, finishing 30 votes ahead of Mel Congerton, a long-serving former Councillor and Deputy Mayor.
Voters in Pearce, the City’s most populous ward, elected 29-year-old Ellenbrook woman Evia Aringo.
Councillor-elect Aringo was born in a Ugandan refugee camp and migrated to Australia at the age of nine.
She was elected alongside Cate McCullough, who retained the seat she has held in Pearce Ward since 2015.
Photo: A congratulatory embrace between successful candidates Evia Aringo and Haeden Miles.
Amanda Dorn was a clear winner in Altone Ward, where she will replace retiring former Mayor David Lucas.
Rashelle Predovnik retained her seat in Midland/Guildford Ward, while Rod Henderson was returned in Swan Valley/Gidgegannup Ward, where he received more than one third of the first-preference vote from a field of six candidates.
A Special Council Meeting will be held on Monday, October 30 to swear-in new Council Members and elect a Deputy Mayor.
Mayor Richardson said she would be a strong advocate for the City, and the community groups that make it such a diverse and vibrant place.
“I’m honoured that the City of Swan community has put their faith in me to lead the Council,” she said.
“I want to see the City grow and realise its incredible potential but I will always prioritise our residents.
“As a nurse, I know how important it is to listen, and I understand that health and wellbeing are what people value most.”
Mayor Richardson has been chosen to lead the City as it enters a period of renewal and growth, with a population that is set to soar from 168,334 this year to almost 300,000 by 2051.
Covering almost 20 per cent of the Perth metropolitan area, the City has land available to support the growth.
There is a steady flow of major local projects and the METRONET Morley-Ellenbrook line is expected to be operational by the end of 2024.
The City has an enviable combination of heritage, natural assets, diversity and economic potential.
Mayor Richardson and the new-look Council will be responsible for setting the strategic direction.
“This is a new beginning for the Council and I’m excited about what we can achieve over the next four years,” Mayor Richardson said.
“It’s an opportunity for us to take stock and think about how we can do a better job for the community.”
For full election results, visit the WA Electoral Commission website.