Capp and Leppert the frontrunners as voting begins for new lord mayor

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The Queen Victoria Market is a major issue in the election.

By THOMAS FOSTER

The race for the Lord Mayor of Melbourne is between independent Sally Capp and the Greens’ Rohan Leppert, political scientist Dr Nick Economou says.

“I still think that the Greens have a good chance of winning this one, notwithstanding the cheering that’s going on for Sally Capp,” he said.

Sally Capp

Almost 145,000 voters in the City of Melbourne have begun receiving postal ballots for the by-election, triggered by the resignation of Robert Doyle after he was accused of sexual harassment.

Ms Capp, on leave from her job as executive director of the Property Council, is the main pro-development candidate and is the clear betting favourite, listed at $1.60 to win. 

Mr Leppert, in his second term as a councillor, could become the first Greens mayor of an Australian capital city and would be the first openly gay lord mayor if he won. He is listed at $3.50.

Rohan Leppert

Academic, broadcaster and regular commentator on ABC radio Sally Warhaft is running as an independent candidate, on a promise to “clean up the City of Melbourne”. 

Mr Doyle resigned in early February, after nearly 10 years as mayor, following allegations of sexual harassment made by a fellow councillor, which he has denied.

Mr Doyle was the second Lord Mayor to be directly elected, after John So won the first and second mayoral elections in 2001 and 2004.

Another candidate, Allan Watson, was briefly appointed Lord Mayor in 1993 for three months before the Kennett government sacked the entire Melbourne City Council. 

THE CANDIDATES

Infographic: Thomas Foster

Dr Economou said a key battleground for candidates had been the redevelopment of the Queen Victoria Market.

“This is how we will delineate who’s on what side of the fence and where those preferences are going to go,” he said.

Mr Morgan and Ms Warhaft have formed an unlikely alliance over the issue of the redevelopment, with Mr Morgan telling the Herald Sun earlier this month that the pair wanted the by-election to be a “referendum on saving the Queen Victoria Market”.

“I don’t mind whether I am lord mayor or Sally Warhaft is mayor, I want someone to stop the market redevelopment,” he said.

Dr Economou said the City of Melbourne was unique among Victorian local governments in that it had a directly elected mayor and allowed both business owners and residents to vote.

“The business people tend to go for the pro-development candidate, and the residents tend to go for either Labor or Green candidates, so it’ll be an interesting arm-wrestle.”

Were Ms Capp to be elected she would be Melbourne’s third female Lord Mayor and the first to be directly elected, with Melbourne’s previous female Lord Mayors being Alexis Ord between 1987 and 1988 and Winsome McCaughey from 1988 to 1989.