WANGARATTA could be the only local government area in Victoria without female representation after a countback is held on November 13.
The Victorian Electoral Commission confirmed on Tuesday the arrangements to fill the vacancy created by the unexpected death of Cr Ruth Amery late last week.
She was the only female voted onto council last year and Ashlee Fitzpatrick shapes as the best chance of a female presence being maintained.
But former councillor Julian Fidge and Greg Mirabella also stand to benefit from close political affiliations with Cr Amery when a countback of her votes only is conducted.
According to the Municipal Association of Victoria, all 78 councils had at least one female councillor elected last year with Wangaratta being among the 12 councils with only one female.
Indigo has the most locally with four – mayor Jenny O’Connor, Barb Murdoch, Sophie Price and Dianne Shepheard.
Indigo is among 15 councils in the state with a majority of women councillors.
Wodonga has three – mayor Anna Speedie, Kat Bennett and Libby Hall – with Alpine, Benalla and Moira having two each.
Towong has only one female councillor, Jennie Star.
Whittlesea councillor Mary Lalios, the first woman to be elected Municipal Association of Victoria president, declined to comment until the countback result was known.
But former Wangaratta councillor Lauren McCully said: “It will be very unfortunate if it ends up that way and there is no female voice on council”.
Under the Local Government Act, a vacancy in a multi-councillor ward is filled by a countback of votes from the previous general election rather than a by-election.
“These votes will be distributed to the six unsuccessful candidates in last year’s election, according to voters’ preferences,” VEC returning officer Charmaine Morel said.
“The candidate who gains more than 50 per cent of the countback votes will be elected.”