Socialist Alliance WA co-convenor Sam Wainwright was re-elected to the Fremantle council on October 19. In the other wards progressive councillors defeated more conservative opponents, and Mayor Brad Pettitt was also returned.
Wainwright won 58 per cent of the vote in his ward compared to 33 per cent at the 2009 poll. Local government elections are "first past the post'' in WA, so 33 per cent was enough to win the election in 2009. Wainwright's absolute vote also increased from 438 votes to 602 this year.
Over the last four years Wainwright has made a priority of organising and promoting community campaigns and supporting council initiatives such as a dramatic increase in the cycling budget. He has been a strong supporter of the Fremantle Road to Rail campaign and helped promote a community owned wind farm at North Quay.
He introduced the Workplace Values policy which recognises the right of council employees to union representation and job security; and set an indigenous employment target.
Wainwright has vigorously defended the Warrawee Women's Refuge which battles to maintain funding levels, and introduced policy to include and respect people with disabilities.
In 2012 he co-founded Action for Human Rights in Tamil Eelam and Sri Lanka, a group which campaigns against Australian government support for the genocidal Rajapaksa regime in Sri Lanka. In this capacity, he has actively supported the campaign for refugee rights.
The candidates opposing the incumbent councillors and Mayor ran on a conservative platform that counter-posed the provision of services like rubbish collection and road repair to environmental and social initiatives. In particular they opposed the skateboarding facilities proposed for the Youth Plaza to be built on Fremantle's Esplanade Park.
Wainwright attributes his success to his record of support for grassroots action, principled progressive politics and engagement with council processes to achieve improvements in community services.
Pettitt – a member of the Greens – won a resounding victory against former state and federal Liberal candidate Matthew Hanssen, securing just over 70% of the vote.
Declaration of the result in Hilton ward
[This article by Alex Bainbridge was written for Green Left Weekly #985.]