By ERWIN CHLANDA
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’.”