Melbourne mayor John So has decided to step down.
Announcing his resignation which came as a surprise, Cr So said would not seek a third-term but his commitment to the city would continue.
“This decision has been one of the most difficult I have ever made…You can not work at 110 per cent forever and that is what this job requires.
“I’m confident this is the right decision. It’s time to pass the baton,” Cr So said.
He said Melbourne has become “the city the world and Australia talks about”, and the future council would inherit “a solid foundation to drive the city forward”.
Despite a mixed bag of reactions that he faced during his 7-year tenure, he garnered substantial public support winning a landslide victory against his nearest rival in the 2004 election.
While his supporters argue he has lifted the city’s liveability and sustainability to a world-class level, critics say he has become a self-absorbed cultural figure, lacking decision-making and council management capabilities.
Last year an Ernst & Young report highlighted the council’s staggering operations, with its spending skewing towards marketing and senior executives’ pay cheques.
The news of Cr So’s departure was followed by a series of candidates announcements for the top job.
Among the mayor contenders are the Greens’ Adam Bandt and Labor’s Will Fowles and Peter McMullin. Publicist and wife of Liberal member Michael Kroger Ann Peacock, and former Victorian opposition leader Robert Doyle are expected join the queue.
Melbourne City councillor Catherine Ng, one of Cr So’s closest allies, is also confirmed to stand for the election.
“I would definitely put my hat in the ring for the mayoral race,” she told ABC.
“The question of running for mayor has crossed my mind, but also I believe the councillors have an equal opportunity to serve Melbourne, the difference is only time and resources.”
The election will be held by postal ballot and closes on November 29.
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