HE ONCE famously described himself as “the phoenix rising from the ashes”, and former mayor John Dal Broi is poised to do it once more.
In a shock announcement, the council veteran declared this week he was strongly considering making a run for the mayoral chains in the September council election.
Just weeks out from the nomination deadline, The Area News canvassed other potential candidates to determine the contenders for the city’s top job.
The only confirmed candidate was Councillor Allan Bennett, while incumbent mayor Mike Neville will make his decision on the final nomination day.
Deputy mayor Domenic Testoni is tipped to announce his intention to run within a week and Cr Dino Zappacosta was still undecided.
Mr Dal Broi, who sat on council for 26 years including 16 as mayor, was candid about his interest in the position and already had more than a few ideas for change.
“I’ve had a lot of people approach me to have another go but it’s a big decision to lead the city again; I’m enjoying retirement so much,” Mr Dal Broi said.
“I do see it as a challenge. A lot needs to be done (in council) and I think I’m the right person to do it.
“What concerns me most is we have so many staff at council in comparison to our size.
“I know (general manager) Brett Stonestreet is working through that but I still have my doubts not all the staff on the payroll are gainfully employed.”
Since retiring in 2008, Mr Dal Broi has remained in the headlines, including the controversial collapse of his business, Dal Broi Wines.
In what seemed every bit a campaign speech, the former mayor questioned council’s transparency, slow completion of roadwork and use of ratepayers’ money, calling for more tough decisions to be made.
“Council is always increasing rates but council should look at supporting itself with the rates it has,” Mr Dal Broi said.
“It might take a bit of heartache but it’s the right thing to do by the community.”
This year’s election will mark the second time Griffith has popularly elected its mayor.
Residents voted by referendum to give the power to the people in 2004, with Cr Neville the first elected under the new arrangement in 2008.
But Cr Neville’s popularity was not enough to keep his four-year term running smoothly.
In 2010 he was arrested on sexual assault charges and has faced community criticism about his decision to stay on as mayor while the court case progressed.
He said it had been a difficult time for him and his family to be in the spotlight.
“I’m weighing up my options whether I’ll stand for council, let alone whether I’ll stand for mayor,” Cr Neville said.
“I’ll discuss it with the people I care about, which is my family, and those who have supported me and make my decision at the last minute, as I did last time.”
If Mr Dal Broi and Cr Neville do run for mayor on September 8, they will be battling against long-serving councillor Allan Bennett, the only contender to reveal his intentions early.
Cr Bennett served on council from 1995 to 1999 and was re-elected in 2004 and 2008.
“I want to see our council become very progressive and get Griffith back to the growth levels we have experienced in the past,” Cr Bennett said.
“I want to move and shake and make things happen.
“We need to make Griffith a vibrant community where people are happy to live. I’ve always believed Griffith has the potential to be the focal point of south-west NSW.”
Cr Bennett said the most important role of the mayor during the next council term would be building confidence in the region.
He believed the Murray-Darling Basin Plan had been used as a scapegoat and the community needed to take the future into its own hands.
Council candidates, including the contenders for mayor, must table their nominations by August 8.
Previous contenders Cr Pat Cox, Cr Anne Napoli and Pat Pittavino have confirmed they would not enter the mayoral race.