Race for Maitland mayor and council seats heat up as ballot drawn

Cr Ken Wethered.
Cr Ken Wethered.

He may have joined the mayoral race just hours before the cutoff date, but deputy mayor Ken Wethered’s late entry has seen him claim top spot on the ballot paper. 

Cr Wethered decided to run for mayor on Tuesday afternoon, the day before the ballot order for mayoral and ward candidates was drawn.

He said he’d been deliberating on whether to run for mayor for the last few weeks, before making his decision on the eve of nomination cutoffs. 

Cr Wethered said he wanted to contribute to a stable council and continue on from the work of mayor Peter Blackmore, saying he was “very happy” with the retiring councillor’s long-time performance. 

It’ll be the third time he has entered the mayoral race after previous attempts in 1993 and 1999. 

Cr Wethered’s entry means six candidates will contest the top job.

Behind Cr Wethered on the ballot paper (in order) is the Liberal Party’s Bob Geoghegan, Independents Philip Penfold and Brian Burke, Country Labor’s Loretta Baker, with John Brown last.

The mayoral candidates, with five serving councillors among them, had mixed opinions on whether their position would impact their chances.

Council election heats up: Returning officer Kevin Short draws from the ballot box on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Lachlan Leeming.

Council election heats up: Returning officer Kevin Short draws from the ballot box on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Lachlan Leeming.

“I’m not a big believer in it being a massive difference,” Cr Penfold said. 

You always want to be number one, but that's the luck of the draw

Mayoral candidate Cr Loretta Baker

Cr Loretta Baker said she would have preferred first place, but it was just “the luck of the draw”.

The Greens’ John Brown said he had experience being at the top and the bottom of the list, but said he’d never found his position had ever overly impacted him. 

Elsewhere in the wards (in order, as they’ll appear on the ballot paper):

Central Ward

  • Sally Halliday
  • Loretta Baker
  • Brian Burke 
  • Philip Penfold
  • John Brown 

West Ward

  • Nicole Penfold 
  • Ben Mitchell 
  • Henry Meskauskas
  • Ken Wethered

East Ward

  • Peter Garnham
  • Jan Davis
  • Kanchan Ranadive
  • Ben Whiting

North Ward

  • Mitchell Griffin
  • Michael Cooper
  • Robert Aitchison
  • Mike Yarrington 

For the full list of candidates see the Maitland Council website.