Explained: What happens at City Hall if Mayor Strelow leaves?
ROCKHAMPTON residents may be forced to vote in two elections within a matter of weeks if Mayor Margaret Strelow successfully contends the state election.
Although Cr Strelow has yet to formally nominate for preselection, and would have to be successful in that venture to run for the Labor Party in the next election, the Local Government Association of Queensland has explained what would happen were she to become the next member for Rockhampton.
Cr Strelow yesterday told media she was canvassing the opinions of Labor Party members and the broader community as she weighs up one of the biggest decisions of her political career.
Fresh from last week's Adani FIFO hub coup, Cr Strelow is considered among the front runners for ALP preselection after the shock decision by Bill Byrne to stand down at the next election for health reasons.
Craig Johnstone, from the LGAQ, yesterday said if Cr Strelow was successful a by-election would be held.
In section 164 of the Local Government Act 2009 it states that if Mayor Strelow's position becomes open due to her succession to higher government, the position must be filled by a by-election.
He said if she were to nominate, but lose pre-selection, there would be no changes to Rockhampton Regional Council.
This was the outcome when she unsuccessfully ran for preselection for the federal seat of Capricornia in 2015, losing to Leisa Neaton.
Mr Johnstone said a councillor ceased to fulfil the role only once they entered parliament.
"They can continue on until they're appointed to parliament," he said.
"Before a candidate is successful in election and is moving from local to state government, they usually give up their government post well before the day they're sworn in.
"Once an election is called, if that person has been preselected for a legal party that person takes leave without pay."
Mr Johnstone said in previous similar situations involving local governments, a decision to stand aside was generally made sooner rather than later in the process. He said the convention was usually that the deputy mayor stepped up during this period.
Cr Strelow yesterday said she had put forward an expression of interest, but had not yet formally nominated.
"I haven't quite really settled on what I want to do, but I felt I needed to at least show my hand in a more formal way," she said. "I've got a bit to weigh up."
Cr Strelow said she had received positive support from the community, but also heard from people who said she had more to offer in her role as Mayor.
"It's a huge decision. I love this city and people know that I do. I am thrilled with where we're at right now," she said.
Nominations for preselection close Monday and Cr Strelow said there were "some weeks worth of process still to go".
Cr Strelow would not speculate about the outcome for Rockhampton Regional Council if she were to nominate and win preselection.