ELECTION LATEST: Councillors elected - but who will be the mayor?

After a nail-biting five day count, Strathfield at last knows its new councillors.  But who controls the council and the identity of the mayor remains a mystery.

The NSW Electoral Commission announced the results at lunchtime Thursday  – with a tally that meant three Liberals, two Labor and two independents had got over the line.

Gulian Vaccari, Sang Ok and Stephanie Kokkolis will form the Liberal team, with Raj Datta and Daniel Bott for Labor. 

Helen McLucas from Strathfield First and United Strathfield’s Andrew Soulos also won places.

The closeness of the count for the seventh seat led to days of speculation as to whether the Liberals, who have done well across Sydney, would hold power for the next four years.

In the end, United Strathfield leader Andrew Soulos, a young pharmacist, won the final seat.

The focus now shifts to a Monday council meeting at which a mayor is supposedly elected.  But who?

Both Gulian Vaccari, Liberals leader and Raj Datta, Labor's No 1 ticket holder, were on the phones to try and woo McLucas and Soulos.  With their support, either could still be in a strong position.

Vaccari needs to win over one.  Datta needs both to hold sway.

On the table are the chairs of influential committees like planning and traffic. Not to mention Mayor or Deputy Mayor.

Soulos and McLucas were giving nothing away.  Both were prepared to talk to both sides.  And everything was open to negotiation.

Vaccari and Datta were similarly playing poker hands.

But the speculation was that Monday's mayoral vote would be interesting - and would certainly set the tone for the upcoming council.

Strathfield has been relatively lucky in having an outcomes-driven council. Other areas have not been blessed with councillors prepared to compromise to get things done.

None of the political leaders who discussed the results of the poll on Saturday wanted to upset this position.

The two key players in the coming days are McLucas and Soulos.  

The Liberals will be piling on the pressure to McLucas, a former party member and the only former councillor.  She represents continuity.  But will they offer her the mayor's robes?

Labor will be holding our the hand of friendship to McLucas - but pressuring Soulos, who has affiliations with Labor Party workers.

If the Liberals can win over one of the Independents, they can control the council. But Labor leader Raj Datta will be attempting to woo both Independents so he can assemble four votes.

McLucas told Ourstrathfield at the weekend: "We are really thrilled with our result.

"Congratulations to the candidates.  It was a great campaign. The level of door knocking by the candidates and discussion meant residents were more informed. I have not experienced this in any previous campaign, particular with the younger people.

"Democracy is alive and well in Strathfield. That is a testament to the residents and the level of care and concern they have for Strathfield."

She added: "We are happy to work with all the new Councillors so the residents see the open and transparent Council that has been promised by all candidates.

Soulos said he would be making up his mind on Monday after answering calls from other councillors.

Vaccari said everyone would be talking to everyone.

So while we know the names of our councillors, who holds the balance of power remains to be seen.



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