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New deputy has no intention - 'at this point' - to challenge Lord Mayor


The Adelaide City Council’s newly appointed Deputy Lord Mayor says she has no designs on Martin Haese’s job at the next election – but “never say never”.

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Area councillor Sandy Verschoor was last night elected by council colleagues to the position of deputy Lord Mayor, replacing Megan Hender in the role.

Fellow Area councillor Sandy Wilkinson – who has been under investigation by the SA Ombudsman over whether he broke conflict of interest laws – was also nominated, but failed to attract the votes.

Verschoor will now serve as Haese’s deputy until the election next year.

Rumours have been circulating within Town Hall in recent days that she is interested in a 2018 tilt. She told InDaily this morning she has no plans to run for the top job in 2018 – but she also refused to rule it out.

Veteran area councillor Anne Moran said Haese had asked her recently – in reference to Verschoor – what it had been like when past lord mayors had worked with a deputy who wanted the top job.

Moran said she told Haese it had been difficult for some and easier for others.

Verschoor told InDaily this morning: “It isn’t in my planning or in my intention [to run as Lord Mayor next election].

“[But] I never say never.

“At this point in time it’s certainly not my intention.

“I think Martin [Haese] is doing a really great job.”

Haese left a voice mail with InDaily this morning saying: “I am very welcoming and very happy of the appointment of Sandy Verschoor as Deputy Lord Mayor effective as of the first of July.

“Her experience at a local government executive level, at political level, at a community level, and at an arts level will serve the community well.”

He added that he was “extremely appreciative of the excellent work of current Deputy Lord Mayor Megan Hender over the past 18 months”.

Haese was speaking at a conference in Sydney this morning and did not respond to a text message from InDaily asking whether he made the comments to Moran.

Area councillor and former Deputy Lord Mayor Natasha Malani told InDaily every city councillor had thought of running for the top job at some point, and the thought was “normal”, but she had heard no suggestion Verschoor was interested in the position.

Fellow former deputy Houssam Abiad said he had had “a chat” with Verschoor about whether she wanted the job, but she gave no indication that she did.

Verschoor formerly served as interim CEO of the Adelaide Festival and had served for three years as a general manager within the city council administration.

She was elected to the council in a 2015 by-election to fill the vacancy created when Robert Simms moved to the federal parliament to become a Greens senator.

Verschoor said at the time that she “wanted to make sure there was a progressive voice on council… I wanted to make sure culture and social entrepreneurship, and everything that goes along with it, remains very much on the agenda”.

The District Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, dismissed a challenge against her election earlier this year.

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