Port Macquarie-Hastings residents to elect a new mayor on July 29, 2017

Port Macquarie-Hastings residents will go to the polls on Saturday July 29 to elect a new mayor.

The date for the by-election was released on Wednesday, May 17.

An Electoral Commission NSW spokesperson said there were around 61,752 people currently enrolled to vote in the by-election.

“Nominations for the mayoral candidates will open officially on Monday June 19 and will close on Wednesday June 28,” the spokesperson said.

“Residents have until June 19 to enrol to vote before the rolls close.

“Pre-polling gets underway on July 17 and will close on July 28.”

A list of pre-polling and polling booths will be released shortly.

The spokesperson said the ballot paper would be ‘pretty simple’ for the election of the new mayor.

With Crs Rob Turner and Sharon Griffith already announcing their intention to be candidates for the top job, more candidates are likely to come forward as the deadline approaches.

Cr Griffiths contested the 2016 election for a position of councillor and as a mayoral candidate. In a three-way battle for the top job, Cr Griffiths secured 13.08% of the vote or 6374 voters while Peter Besseling polled 57.63% or 28,086 votes.

The third candidate, Wauchope-based businesswoman Peta Pinson secured 29.29% or 14,274 votes.

Ms Pinson is yet to publicly declare if she will contest the by-election.

Peter Besseling resigned as mayor in a sudden announcement on May 8 to take up the general manager’s role with Birdon Marine.

Coincidentally Cr Turner was effectively blocked from resigning as a councillor to contest the mayoral by-election through red tape.

He had originally suggested he would resign as a councillor and run for mayor enabling voters to go to the polls to elect a new mayor and councillor. At the time, he said his intention was to try to avert the added costs of a second by-election.

However, under the Local Government Act this was not possible.

If a sitting councillor resigns from their role – in this case to contest the mayoral election – they are unable to contest an election for public office within 12 months.

Therefore, if a current councillor wins the mayoral by-election, we will go back to the polls.

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