Melbourne’s Lord Mayor John So announced at 11 o’clock this morning that he won’t be running again in November’s municipal elections.
Elected in 2001, So emerged as something of a cult figure across Melbourne due to his good humour and positive outlook.
Council insiders reveal that a factor in So’s decision was a fall-out with pugnacious councillor Catherine Ng, who plans to run for Lord Mayor herself. Ng is married to Douglas Campbell, Liberal leader Ted Baillieu’s economics adviser.
Ng was elected to the council twice on So’s coat-tails and had grown impatient about taking over as Lord Mayor. She recently told the local press there was a 40 per cent chance she’d run for the top job, even bizarrely referring to herself as the “City’s mother”.
She’ll be able to draw on a large bloc of Chinese community support and also present herself as a Liberal sympathetic candidate. This gives her potentially large groups of support within the municipality providing she doesn’t alienate them between now and the election. Her personal style – intense, pushy and odd – could easily cost her an election she might otherwise have won.
So is believed to be supporting other candidates, including possibly Labor’s Peter McMullin, a former deputy mayor of Melbourne and one-time mayor of Geelong.