THE mayor has been deposed and five newcomers elected in a stunning upset during the Monash Council elections.
In news that sent gasps around the Victorian Electoral Commission’s Monash election headquarters, mayor Stefanie Perri failed in her bid to retain a spot on the council after a month of heavy campaigning.
Although Ms Perri received 3246 first preference votes, coming second only to Stephen Dimopoulos, she failed to control the spill of preferences which pushed Liberal Party member Theo Zographos and independent Bill Pontikis over the line.
Cr Dimopoulos said it had been a ‘‘tough race’’.
‘‘It’s a bit of a double-edged sword for me. I’m happy but it’s a qualified happiness. I’m a bit sad for someone who I reckon is the best mayor we’ve had and a really excellent colleague,’’ he said, referring to Ms Perri.
‘‘I just thought she would pull through because she has the higher profile, but the other two had a lot of candidates coming their way.’’
Councillors Zographos and Pontikis are experienced hands at running council campaigns and unsuccessfully ran for the council at the 2008 election. Cr Pontikis said that planning was the key to his success at this election.
‘‘I’m very excited about what the next four years will bring,’’ he said.
Ms Perri was conspicuously absent from the official results declaration held at the council chambers last night, but sent her best wishes to candidates through Cr Dimopoulos.
In the Glen Waverley ward the almost unstoppable Geoff Lake, who received 7722 first preference votes, was joined by newcomer Katrina Nolan who pipped candidate Daniel Pan at the post.
Mount Waverley ward stalwart Tom Morrissey was joined on the council by deputy mayor Jieh-Yung Lo and former Monash councillor Brian Little.
Cr Lo said he was humbled by the results but was devastated to see Ms Perri lose her seat.
‘‘Stefanie was a great friend and it’s truly hard to find someone so passionate about the community.
It was a real privilege to serve under her,’’ he said.
Mulgrave’s Paul Klisaris received 7208 first preferences and was elected with incumbent Micaela Drieberg and first-time councillor Robert Davies.
Cr Davies said he was ‘‘ecstatic’’ at the results.
‘‘I think it’s a great win for ratepayers in Mulgrave ward,’’ he said.
‘‘I want to make sure council works better for the residents and ratepayers of Mulgrave and the city of Monash.’’
Monash will now have only two women serving over the next four years — down from five women who sat on the previous council.
Cr Drieberg said that while she was relieved to have retained her seat, she was disappointed at the gender unbalance on the new council.
‘‘Given that Stefanie Perri and myself have done a lot of work in this area across the state, it’s a bit of a slap in the face, really,’’ she said.
‘‘I’m beyond disappointed for Stefanie, I think she’s a fantastic councillor, grassroots, from her heart, so to be dealt this card is just unbelievable.
‘‘It’s almost a little unfair that Stefanie and myself did well on our primary votes and it was the preferencing that ran amok and dealt us the cards that we have now.’’
Cr Drieberg also expressed an interest in being mayor.
‘‘I’d love to be mayor, especially given that we really need the flag flown for women now,’’ she said.