Double blow

The resignation of an Alexandrina Councillor following an investigation into her complaint against her treatment at the hands of a fellow elected member is a double loss for the local community.

Not only does the Angas Bremer Ward community lose the services of an experienced second-term councillor, but it must also now go through the long process of electing a new representative – just over a year out from the next council elections.

It is unfortunate that Cr Katherine Stanley-Murray felt the complaint investigation process and aftermath left her with little choice but to resign as an elected member.

She had been democratically re-elected to the position of Deputy Mayor for a second 12-month term back in late 2016.

That decision was made via a secret ballot in which Ms Stanley-Murray received the highest number of votes from her fellow councillors out of the three candidates running for the role.

Mayor Keith Parkes upheld the result of that ballot using his casting vote when the motion to endorse Ms Stanley-Murray’s appointment came down to a tied vote.

Some councillors objected to her appointment in the weeks afterwards based on an understanding dating back to 2014 that it be a 12-month position to allow councillors to take turns in the role.

However, it appears that no objection to Ms Stanley-Murray contesting the position was made during the voting process.

Arguably, the time to raise the issue of whether Ms Stanley-Murray was eligible to stand again was at that meeting.

Instead, internal concerns over whether the appointment was in keeping with the intent of the council’s 2014 decision were allowed to ferment, leading to allegations of bullying and harassment which Ms Stanley-Murray claims forced her to resign.

The community could be forgiven for being frustrated that what was a relatively minor dispute at the time – which should have been resolved with a couple of mutual apologies and a firming up of policy regarding the annual appointment of a Deputy Mayor – was allowed to escalate to the point of a resignation of an elected member from office.

There is an expectation that those in public office should be able to sort out such differences of opinion in a professional manner and in a way that is going to deliver the best result for the community, whom they are elected to serve.