‘I’ll announce when I’m ready’: Lord Mayor coy on re-election bid

Adelaide Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor says she won’t yet reveal whether she will run for re-election, after former senator Rex Patrick formally announced his bid to take her seat at Town Hall.

Aug 08, 2022, updated Aug 08, 2022
Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Patrick today launched his campaign for Lord Mayor on a platform of council transparency, better governance and a new long-term plan for the city.

The former federal senator has been a prominent critic of the council’s confidentiality processes and has vowed to run as a factionally-unaligned candidate to reject “majority politics where the winner takes all”.

Veteran independent councillors Anne Moran and Phil Martin along with recently elected progressive councillor Kerian Snape have all come out in support of Patrick’s campaign.

Verschoor’s four year-term as Lord Mayor ends in November. She told ABC Radio that she was proud of her council’s record but hasn’t indicated yet whether she is going to run for re-election.

Asked if she was thinking about running again, Verschoor said: “Yes of course I’m thinking about it.”

“I’ll announce when I’m ready to announce,” she said.

“I’m very very proud of what my council’s achieved over the last four years, I think it’s been extraordinary.

“Three years of it has been under a global pandemic, I mean it’s fairly amazing what we’ve been able to do.

“I’ll will be looking over the next couple weeks – I’ve got to get through tomorrow night’s council meeting first – and then I’ll pay it the attention its due.”

Asked what she made of Patrick’s decision to run for her job, Verschoor said: “Of course I think that it’s an absolute privilege to be the Lord Mayor of a capital city so I’m very pleased that people see it in the high regard that it should be held.”

But she took a swipe at Patrick’s call for council to formulate 10- and 20-year plans for the city’s future, saying that work was already underway and due for discussion at Tuesday’s council meeting.

“We’re the first council in years to actually have it in our strategic plan and we’ve already started work on it,” she said.

“The delivery of that which is sort of the spatial and strategic vision for the future of development and experiences in the city is something that we’ve been working on for quite a long time now.

“I’m pleased that he’s supporting the work that we’ve already been doing.”

Voting packs for the Adelaide City Council election will be mailed out between October 14 and October 20.

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Voting will close on November 10 and the count will begin on Saturday, November 12.

It comes as Patrick continues a public fight with council administration over their decision to refuse a freedom of information request for the land contract for the lucrative Eighty-Eighty O’Connell St development in North Adelaide.

The Council’s FOI officer rejected the request on the grounds that the contract contained confidential material and information that could “adversely affect the financial and property interest of Council”.

Verschoor defended the decision to keep the document under wraps.

“Those confidentiality clauses were put in there by our development partner Commercial & General, and it is up to us as a Council to honour the agreement,” she said.

“There is a sovereign risk for any council if we can’t abide by confidentiality for commercial matters, particularly around negotiations.”

The developer behind the $250m project, Commercial & General executive chairman Jamie McClurg, last week called on the council to release the document in an opinion piece published in InDaily.

Verschoor criticised McClurg’s decision to put forward the opinion piece but said council was now in a position to release the document.

“Two parties are supposed to get together and discuss that rather than one party going out in an op-ed when they decide,” she said.

“Two weeks before that Jamie had been very very clear they didn’t want to release it.

“The reason Jamie has gone out is because the second milestone has now been completed.

“So whereas he may have been asked previously and we weren’t at a point where we could release it, we’re now at a point where we can.”

Patrick’s Freedom of Information request for the land contract is due to be actioned within two weeks.

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