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Abiad resigns from city council

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UPDATED | Former Deputy Lord Mayor and central ward councillor Houssam Abiad has resigned from the council after 10 years to focus on “emerging business interests” in Australia and overseas.

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Abiad, who was credited as the leader of the Team Adelaide majority faction, sent an email to elected members and the council’s CEO on Wednesday evening announcing his resignation – effective immediately.

In the email – seen by InDaily – Abiad said he was embarking on new business ventures that would make it “untenable” for him to continue serving as a councillor.

“The year 2020 marks the start of my tenth year of service to the City of Adelaide as a councillor and then Deputy Lord Mayor,” he wrote.

“We have had our ups and downs over the years but the journey by far has been very positive and at every turn we have managed to deliver incredible outcomes for the city.

“This by far has been one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had and it has been an absolute honour to serve alongside you all.”

Abiad wrote that he was “immensely proud” of his tenure as councillor but that he was now no longer able to devote the necessary time to the role.

“I have emerging business interests both in Australia and overseas and feel it is untenable for me to continue to devote the time needed to my position as councillor with the City of Adelaide,” he wrote.

“Adelaide will always be at the heart of everything I do and I thank you all for trusting me to serve with you over the last three terms of council.”

Abiad was absent from last night’s council meeting and publicly announced the resignation shortly after sending the email.

He has since confirmed he is working overseas, in Saudi Arabia.

Abiad was first elected as central ward councillor in 2010, before rising to become Deputy Lord Mayor in the last term of council.

Abiad, who was elected to Deputy Lord Mayor for a second time at the start of this council term, was one of the key figures behind the Team Adelaide faction which gained a majority at the 2018 council election.

He relinquished his position as Deputy Lord Mayor to newcomer and fellow Team Adelaide member Alexander Hyde in December.

There will be a supplementary election for Abiad’s now-vacant central ward seat, which is estimated to cost up to $60,000.

A spokesperson from the Electoral Commission said it was yet to receive notification from the Adelaide City Council about Abiad’s resignation, which leaves Team Adelaide without a majority in the council chamber.

Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor told InDaily she wished Abiad “every happiness and success”.

Hyde said Abiad had made an “unparalleled” contribution to Adelaide over the past decade.

“Rarely is any level of government graced by someone who works so selflessly to advance the interests of those they represent and the community at large,” he said.

“The City of Adelaide has lost one of its best.”

Area councillor Robert Simms, who is not part of Team Adelaide, also congratulated Abiad on his service.

He said the supplementary election would be a “referendum on Team Adelaide”.

“It really is a battle for the soul of our city,” Simms said.

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