A member of the former Palmerston council, which was dumped over governance concerns, has been elected mayor of the satellite city.
Athina Pascoe-Bell was among the aldermen dismissed by the Northern Territory Government, along with then-mayor Ian Abbott, following the council’s suspension in June 2017.
The move was put down to a number of events, but centred on a council decision to sign a $13.5 million carpark contract without the funds to do it or a “subject to finance” clause.
An investigation recommended Ms Pascoe-Bell, Mr Abbott and other aldermen be dismissed, which was accepted by the Minister for Community Development Gerry McCarthy.
Palmerston residents then took to the polls on March 24, three months later.
In the new mayoral race, Ms Pascoe-Bell was closely trailed by former mayor Robert Macleod — who once bashed his neighbour with a golf club.
After five years as mayor and 12 years in council, Mr Macleod was forced to step down in 2012 over the assault, for which he spent 10 days in jail.
Pascoe-Bell focusing on transparency
Mr Macleod, who did not run for an alderman position, had a greater number of first preference votes at a total of 2,970 to Ms Pascoe-Bell’s 2,808.
But after preferences were distributed, Ms Pascoe-Bell’s numbers surged ahead to 6,804 of the total vote, to Mr Macleod’s 5,792.
Ms Pascoe-Bell said it was a “clean slate” for the council and that her main platform for election was to run a transparent local government.
“We’ve got a new council now and it looks like it’s filled with really good quality people so everything’s looking positive for moving forward,” Ms Pascoe-Bell said.
“Running as smoothly and transparently as possible is the main focus and then collectively as a council we’ll need to decide on what things we need to achieve over the next three-and-a-half years.”
The new mayor said she blew the whistle on the bad governance of the previous council.
“I think clearly the public did recognise what I did when I was on the council,” she said.
“Trying to bring forward transparency in the way the council operated and actually calling out the really bad decisions and the really bad processes.
“I think it’s just been reflected in the way people voted, not just for mayor but also high in the vote for aldermen as well.”
Ms Pascoe-Bell also received the second highest number of alderman votes.
‘Rubbish warrior’ Trevor Jenkins misses out
The aldermen elected include former Labor federal member for Solomon Damian Hale, Lucy Buhr, Sarah Henderson, Tom Lewis, Benjamin Giesecke, Mick Spick and Amber Garden.
The Darwin man known as the “Rubbish Warrior”, Trevor Jenkins, missed out on an alderman position, winning 4 per cent of the vote.
Mr Jenkins, who has been in a long-running dispute with authorities for lining the streets with sculptures made of rubbish and greenery, also ran for mayor.
Both Mr Jenkins and former Palmerston mayor Mr Abbott got higher numbers in the first preference vote than some of the newly elected aldermen.
Despite missing out, Mr Jenkins was upbeat about the process and said he would now concentrate on his art.
“I thought it was great, I really enjoyed campaigning and I had a lot of fun,” Mr Jenkins said.
“I had a lot of ideas, but anyway, it’s OK.
“I thought the people of Palmerston were really generous, so it was great.”
New alderman Ms Garden tallied 295 votes in first preferences, and Mr Giesecke 341, while Mr Jenkins got 479 votes and Mr Abbott gained 574.
Mr Hale got the highest number of votes for an alderman position, marking his return to politics.
The former federal MP unsuccessfully contested the seat of Blain in the 2016 NT election, losing to independent and former chief minister Terry Mills.
Mr Hale once smashed a window of a coaching box during a Top End football final, afterwards describing himself as “a passionate coach and person of integrity” and paying to repair the window.