'I'm doing what's right'

NO TIME TO WASTE: Incumbent mayor Mike Neville is convinced he is doing the right thing by the Griffith community by running for the city's top job next month.
NO TIME TO WASTE: Incumbent mayor Mike Neville is convinced he is doing the right thing by the Griffith community by running for the city's top job next month.

GRIFFITH mayor Mike Neville has shrugged off accusations he is showing contempt to ratepayers by seeking re-election a month before he goes on trial for sexual assault.

Cr Neville announced on Sunday night he would run as both mayor and councillor in the September election.

The announcement has angered some residents who called for him to step aside after his arrest in 2010 and again after a district court trial in April this year delivered a hung jury.

Council could be forced to stage two consecutive by-elections if Cr Neville is re-elected to the role and convicted.

His departure would force a by-election for the mayoral chains, which would be followed by a second by-election to elect a new councillor if an existing councillor replaced him as mayor.

The entire exercise could cost council $150,000.

"I don't have anything against him (Cr Neville) as the current mayor, whether or not he is facing charges," Griffith Business Chamber vice president Sonia Callipari said.

"The problem is that he is facing a court case a month after the election, which could cause a by-election.

"If you're thinking of moving away from Griffith, you don't run for council. If your heart isn't with the community or you can't give the job 100 per cent, you don't run for council.

"This is an irresponsible and selfish decision and shouldn't be accepted by anyone in the community."

Cr Neville has repeatedly dismissed public doubt over his ability to fulfil his duties while facing serious allegations.

Confident he would be acquitted, he said he would be wasting four potential years of service to the community if he didn't stand for election next month.

"I have always maintained my innocence and myself, my family and my legal team believe we will get the right result," the 52-year-old said.

"It would have been ideal to have it all over with by now but, the way I see it, the same scenario (a by-election) could happen if someone on council had a heart attack.

"Hypotheticals are great but we shouldn't let them stand in the way of what is right for the community."

Cr Neville said he had been approached by dozens of residents asking him to stand for the city's top job.

Murrumbidgee MP Adrian Piccoli supported Cr Neville, saying he had a right to make his own decision on running for mayor and council.

"The court hasn't determined any changes to his legal entitlement to stand and the fairest thing is for the public to decide whether they want him there or not," Mr Piccoli said.

Cr Neville will be forced to take leave during the trial if re-elected, putting immediate pressure on the deputy mayor, who will be chosen by the councillors in September.

Among his goals for the next four years are the completion of Griffith Community Private Hospital, ensuring the Murray-Darling Basin Plan delivers a good result for Griffith and overseeing a major inquiry into the March floods.


Discuss "'I'm doing what's right'"

Please note: All comments made or shown here are bound by the Online Discussion Terms & Conditions.