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HomeIssue 50Mayoral race: And they're off!

Mayoral race: And they’re off!


The first announcement has been made about joining the race for Mayor next year: Councillor Eli Melky (pictured) is – reluctantly, he claims – yielding to public pressure to stand.

“While there are many other variables to consider, it is highly likely that I will be unable to ignore the concerns of my community who are screaming out for action to make this great town of ours safe,” Cr Melky said when the Alice Springs News popped the question this morning.

It followed the seasoned councillor’s success last week in having (an undefined) curfew included in the measures that the Town Council would consider to fight crime.

The situation regarding sitting Mayor Damien Ryan and sometime Deputy Mayor Jamie de Brenni is more complicated.

The News this morning asked both whether they would stand. Neither has answered that question so far.

We referred Cr de Brenni to an interview with him in the lead-up to the 2017 poll.

Cr de Brenni (pictured) told us he would not challenge Mayor Ryan in that election, but in 2021 would contest the top job, with the support of Mr Ryan.

“You had an understanding with Damien that you would run for Mayor in 2021 with his support,” we put to Cr de Brenni today.

“Was there such an arrangement? Is it still in place?”

Cr de Brenni agreed with the first part of the question only: “Yes, I remember our discussion and I said I would not be running at the time and would be considering it next time around. 

“I didn’t say anything regards to your account of Damien support and you need to ask him regards any other assumptions you may have.”

We have, but Mayor Ryan hasn’t replied so far.

This invites speculation about apparently revised objectives by the two council members previously joined at the hip.

Was Mr Ryan’s winning a Legislative Assembly seat this year part of the plan? And when that went pear shaped, did Mayor Ryan change his mind about leaving the council?

Cr de Brenni appeared to be relishing his appointment as Mayor when Mr Ryan finally resigned a few weeks out from the election. To have been incumbent in the job for a year before the contest would certainly have been a boost to a mayoral campaign.

Now in his bid for the top job next year, does Cr de Brenni have an opponent in Mayor Ryan rather than a supporter?

Body language and some verbal exchanges at council meetings suggest that their alliance at the least is being tested.

Meanwhile, it is hard not to speculate that high-profile progressive Cr Jimmy Cocking will again put his hat in the ring, having run a creditable race last time and now having a solid term as councillor behind him.

PHOTO at top: Mayor Damien Ryan (in the background) in a Rotary Club of Alice Springs stall last week, wrapping Christmas gifts as a fundraising project.


UPDATE Dec 22, 6.10am

Cr Jimmy Cocking (pictured) said this morning in a text: “I am seriously considering running again.

“It is the first question most people ask me when they stop me in the street and when I ask if they think I should run the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.”


  1. Someone (and I hasten to say, not me), has spray-painted the words “D.RYAN. DO SOMETHING!” on the road surface of Railway Terrace.
    I see this as symptomatic of the frustration many locals have with a mayor who can boast having served the longest, whilst having achieved the least of any other in his position.
    I myself was astounded at his opposition to the flying of the Aboriginal flag on Anzac Hill, to the very end, when Cr Satour finally got that through.
    His modus operandi seems to me to be “do nothing” and hope things will get back to the heady days of the 1980s. NEWS FLASH: They won’t!
    While I think Mayor Ryan is a likeable bloke – certainly very popular in Alice’s social circles – I’ve also long argued that the times and future challenges call for more enlightened leadership, if the town is to survive at all.
    Things are so bad that it would appear that almost anyone would do a better job … except for Mr de Brenni, who I cannot help but see as “Damien Light”.
    We need a more progressive council, a team that puts our town first, is able to develop a vision and work out how to get there, a council that is not afraid to take the NT Government to task in funding long-term improvements in The Alice and Central Australia.
    One thing’s for sure: “More-of-the-same” will not cut it.

  2. @ Domenico: Couldn’t have said it better. Especially the “We need a more progressive council, a team that puts our town first.”

  3. Too true. There are a few truly community minded members in at the moment. Hopefully they stay the course and don’t become old fuddy duddies like our current Mayor and his cohort.

  4. What do we read into that? Petty politics, self serving arrangements, my people are calling, @ Domenico: One thing’s for sure: “More-of-the-same” will not cut it.

  5. Coronavirus advice for senior March 24, 2020 Ken Davis, CE of Territory Families: “We understand that the emergence of coronavirus can cause concern amongst our community, particularly our senior members.”
    I will vote for the one who had check/care for us during the alert = none.

  6. @ Litmus. Yes more of the same will not cut it. That’s why I support candidates that stand for change.
    The way in which the Council has been closing down and shutting out transparency and accountability is a real worry.
    Once an issue becomes “operational” it is no longer able to be discussed or scrutinised.
    In effect “operational” means secret.
    This “don’t you worry about that” approach has been sheeted home to the CEO but very likely it is driven by Mayor Ryan.
    It is either supported or not criticised by most councillors with the exception of Councillor Melky.
    This is so fundamental to the open and accountable governance of the Council that I will only vote for candidates who stand in opposition to it.

  7. We don’t live in Alice any longer, however we have a business there and other interests.
    It seems that the current council have blinkers on.
    Youth crime has to be dealt with ASAP.
    Take off your blinkers Mayor and do something!
    I won’t go into detail how much the crime has affected us, but will say we are over it.


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