Sunday, October 18, 2009

Socialist Alliance member Sam Wainwright elected to Fremantle Council

Socialist Alliance WA co-convenor Sam Wainwright was elected to the Fremantle Council in the October 17 poll. He is the first Socialist Alliance member to be elected to a local government position in Australia.

Wainwright polled over 33% (438 out of 1310 valid votes). His nearest competitor, an ALP member, polled 337 votes (25.7%). Under the new, undemocratic first-past-the-post local government electoral laws in WA, Wainwright was elected as the candidate with the most votes.

We believe that Wainwright is the first socialist elected to public office in WA for a long time, if not ever.

In a media statement, Wainwright said: "Most candidates for council try to appeal to the middle ground and keep their political affiliations quiet. I don’t believe in that approach. I think it’s better to be upfront about your beliefs. Throughout the campaign I emphasised that I was a staunch socialist, unionist and environmentalist."

He added, “I didn’t expect everyone to sign up to everything I stand for. But I did ask people to believe that I would be a hard working campaigner for their rights. I’m really grateful and humbled that so many people have shown their confidence in me and saw my background as a positive.”

Wainwright thanked the diverse range of people that supported his campaign, “Active support came from all sorts of places: members of Socialist Alliance, the Greens and the ALP all pitched in; many unionists and community activists helped out; and last but not least, everyday residents who don’t wear a political label but want to see the sort of change that we talked about in the campaign. The election result belongs to these people and I know that the hard work now begins.”

In the mayoral poll of six candidates, Greens member Brad Pettit triumphed with over 45% of the vote, well in front of two fellow Greens Michael Martin and Jon Strachan. Both Pettit and Strachan were endorsed by the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce.

Of the six new councillors elected there is one ALP member, two Greens, two independents and one Socialist Alliance. However under WA electoral law local government candidates can not formally run for political parties and Wainwright was the only candidate to declare his political affiliations in his campaign material.

Official election results are here.

Leave a message of congratulations:

Initial Green Left Weekly report (more next week):

Sam's media statement:

This election victory is an important milestone in the process of building a socialist alternative to capitalism. However, it is only one step. And to take more steps forward, we need more people to join up and become involved.

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