EXCLUSIVE: For the past three years it has been easy to predict who the next Mayor of Penrith will be thanks to possibly the worst kept secret in local politics.
But now a “secret deal” between Liberal and some Independent Councillors to decide who takes Penrith’s top job may be in tatters, which is set to make for an interesting Mayoral Election on Monday night.
And, it all comes down to the self-proclaimed “hottest man on Council” – Councillor Marko Malkoc.
The Weekender understands the deal was made after the 2008 Council Election, which involved sharing the roles of Mayor and Deputy Mayor between Independent Councillors, Kevin Crameri and Jim Aitken, as well as Liberal Ross Fowler.
Cr Aitken would take the first year as Mayor, Cr Crameri the following two, and finally, Cr Fowler would step up as Mayor until the next Council Election in 2012.
However, with Cr Malkoc recently being kicked out of the Liberal Party, he now serves as an Independent Councillor, which he believes could change the “Liberal and Independent dominance” of Penrith City Council.
“September 19 is going to be a very interesting night – when I cast my vote it will be for the best person,” said Cr Malkoc, who has already confirmed he would vote for Labor’s Greg Davies, providing he is nominated to run by Labor Caucus.
While Cr Malkoc’s decision could potentially see Labor in control of Council for the first time since Cr Davies was last Mayor in 2007, his vote may come at a price for both sides of politics.
“I have expressed my interest to be Deputy Mayor, but I’ll have to leave that decision up to both parties,” he said.
Currently, there are six Labor Councillors, five Liberals and four Independents on Council.
In following the deal, Cr Aitken and Crameri should align with Liberal Councillors, but Labor will need the support of Independents, Cr Malkoc and Jackie Greenow, to take control of Council.
But Cr Crameri believes his vote is now irrelevant.
“I have no idea what’s going to happen now. If Cr Malkoc votes for Labor, then that candidate will be Mayor,” Cr Crameri told the Weekender.