FRANKSTON’S mayor Cr Darrel Taylor is aiming to be the Liberal Party’s candidate for Frankston electorate at the November state election.
Cr Taylor nominated for preselection last week and if chosen will take on rebel MP Geoff Shaw, who won the seat as a Liberal in 2010 but quit the parliamentary Liberal Party last March and is facing expulsion from the party.
But not all Frankston councillors are happy about Cr Taylor’s nomination.
Cr Colin Hampton told The Times Cr Taylor’s move takes the council back to the days of a politicised council, a reference to the so-called “moccasin wars” of the mid-2000s when councillors divided along Liberal and Labor party lines.
Cr Hampton said Cr Taylor promised not to run for parliament or get involved with state politics when lobbying for the mayoralty last year.
“Darrel sought my support halfway through Sandra Mayer’s mayoral year and three times gave me his word he would not nominate for preselection,” Cr Hampton said.
“The council has worked hard on a bipartisan approach since 2007 and this was reaffirmed when I was mayor in 2009 when Liberal-leaning councillors voted for me.”
He said all mayors since 2007 had undertaken not to promote any political party during their mayoral years.
But Cr Taylor said he gave no guarantee. Last Tuesday, he told The Times: “When I was lining up to be mayor, I had no vision of [entering] state parliament.”
Cr Hampton, a Labor Party member for 36 years, said Cr Taylor resigned from the Liberal Party before running for council in 2012.
“If Darrel was an ordinary councillor and not the mayor, I’d have no problems with him nominating for preselection,” he said.
“His decision risks bringing back political infighting.
“If the mayor can’t keep his promise to me, how will he keep his promises to the Frankston community?”
Cr Hampton said five councillors of Liberal, Labor and independent political persuasions had lobbied hard for the city in Canberra last year and won more than $1 million in grants.
Cr Hampton is expected to raise the matter of the mayor’s nomination for preselection at the council meeting on Monday 10 February. He will call for Cr Taylor to withdraw his nomination. If this fails and he continues, Cr Taylor will be called on to step down as mayor if he wins preselection.
The veteran councillor said five of his nine colleagues did not want Cr Taylor to nominate for preselection.
Cr Brian Cunial said he did not have a problem with Cr Taylor nominating but expected him to stand down if he won preselection. He would support any move to ask the mayor to step aside.
Cr Taylor, who rejoined the Liberal Party in January, said he had been encouraged by many members of the community and local Liberal Party members to seek preselection and take on Geoff Shaw.
Cr Taylor said he had not yet decided when he would step down as mayor if he won preselection but it would be a “reasonable time before the writs for the election are issued”.
Writs will be issued 25 days before the 29 November election.
“No one is more shocked than me about what has happened in the past two years, ” Cr Taylor said, referring to running for the council in 2012, winning a seat in South Ward, being elected mayor last November, and now being asked to run for state parliament.