Australian Labor Party candidate Del Bennett has requested a recount of the mayoral vote, saying that Labor was “considering its options” for a Supreme Court challenge once the recount occurred.
On Saturday night, incumbent mayor Frank Carbone claimed victory as the first independent mayor of Fairfield City by just 135 votes.
“Due to the closeness of the count in the mayoral election, the Returning Officer will conduct a recount of the votes,” a council spokesperson said on Tuesday. “This decision was taken quite separate to any request from candidates.”
More than 55 per cent of Fairfield voters did not vote for Liberal or Labor, choosing instead to favour either minor parties or independent candidates.
In 2012, in an election where the Liberal party did not endorse any candidates, Labor held 45.36 per cent of the first preference vote. This year, Labor managed just 31.36 per cent.
After close of polls on Saturday, September 10, the initial vote count showed a narrow margin between Cr Bennett and Cr Carbone – 31 per cent to 29 per cent.
By Thursday afternoon, declaration and pre-poll vote counts had concluded, and election officials began allocating preferences. The Greens, the CDP and independent Dai Le all preferenced Cr Carbone.
The Christian Democratic Party’s preferences closed the distance between Cr Bennett and Cr Carbone to just 856 votes.
Liberal candidate Joe Molluso’s preferences reduced the lead between Cr Bennett and Cr Carbone to 394 votes.
The final decision came down to the preferences allocated by Cr Le’s 18,577 votes.
In a nail-biting wait, the two candidates alternated the lead throughout Saturday. Cr Carbone claimed victory by 135 votes, saying that the result “sent a message” to the major parties that “people won’t be taken for granted.”
Cr Bennett, however, said that “a recount must occur given there were times when bundles of 200 votes went missing.” The Returning Officer said the recount “will take approximately three days.”