Alderman Samih Habib Bitar, the Town Council's longest-serving member, has not ruled out running for Mayor against incumbent Damien Ryan. Nor has council's newest member, Alderman Eli Melky. Ald Habib Bitar will, however, definitely run again as alderman, while Ald Melky may not.
Ald Habib Bitar would not say what will influence his decision on the mayoral contest, but Ald Melky, returned in a by-election in March last year, was quite clear: whether he runs for mayor or simply as an alderman, he wants to see who else is going to put their hands up.
Ald Melky, in an interview with the Alice Springs News, gives sitting Mayor Damien Ryan "an A+" for his exercise of the ceremonial role and for "talking up the town", for example in his role as vice-president of the Finke Desert Race committee, but on the "hard issues, a D-".
Mayor Ryan responds that he is "at a loss to find any input that Alderman Melky can claim as his achievement since joining ASTC in March 2011, although he has always been quick to provide media headlines while others in council have got on with real actions".
In the coming weeks we will bring you interviews with aspiring aldermen – they won't include 8HA talkback host Adrian Renzi, who has decided against running – and any mayoral candidates that may emerge.
A new voting system will mean that any candidate who can get more than 1/9th of the vote across Alice Springs ( 11.1%) will now get elected as one of the eight alderman, as opposed to the old system under which all eight had to attract over 50% of voters, likely to mean a broader-based council. KIERAN FINNANE reports. Ald Melky is pictured above, addressing the rally outside Parliamentary sittings in Alice Springs in March last year.