Victorian Electoral Commission to hold countback to decide Wangaratta Council replacement for Ruth Amery

FORMER Wangaratta councillor Julian Fidge has put a line through his chances of filling the vacancy on council created by the recent death of Ruth Amery.

DONE AND DUSTED: Julian Fidge says he has no chance of winning the Wangaratta Council countback on Monday to replace the late Ruth Amery.

DONE AND DUSTED: Julian Fidge says he has no chance of winning the Wangaratta Council countback on Monday to replace the late Ruth Amery.

Dr Fidge polled the most first preference votes outside the four councillors elected to the city ward at last year’s elections.

But under the countback system to be used on Monday to determine Cr Amery’s replacement, he said he was in political limbo land as he was not excluded from the original count as were the two other countback contenders, 19-year-old Ashlee Fitzpatrick and Greg Mirabella.

“It is impossible to be elected (on countback) if you are in that in between bracket,” Dr Fidge said.

“None of my votes can be used whereas everyone else’s can.

“Their votes went to Ruth to get her elected so they get returned whereas none of my votes went to Ruth so they can’t be returned.

“I start from zero and they start in the hundreds.

“I’ve got no chance.”

A similar scenario unfolded in 2013 when former mayor Robert Paino was on the cusp of being elected, but in two subsequent countbacks to fill the vacancy created by Lisa McInerney he was overtaken.

Another former mayor Anthony Griffiths won the initial countback, but declined the opportunity to return to the council which was eventually sacked by the Victorian Government.

Col McClounan won the second countback in mid-June and the council was sacked in September.

The countback system used by the VEC only redistributes the departed councillor’s primary and preference votes.

If elected, Ms Fitzpatrick will prevent Wangatta being the only council in Victoria without female representation.

She would also be one of the youngest females to ever serve on a council in the state.

“I will be happy when it is all done,” she said.

“It is an unfortunate situation what has happened, but it is what it is and things happen for a reason.”

Mr Mirabella was tight-lipped about the countback.

“If elected I will be taking up the position. All will be revealed on Monday.”

Dr Fidge said he would be initially challenging the result at the Municipal Electoral Tribunal.

Other city ward councillors are mayor Ken Clarke, Dean Rees and Dave Fuller with the countback winner able to vote in upcoming mayoral election.