Waterford has voted to reject the proposal of a directly elected Mayor by the narrowest of margins with 22, 437 voting no in the proposal.
There were only 719 votes between the divisive proposal passing or not. Counting began at 9am at the count centre. It was initially too close to call as piles of votes were being counted.
Announcing the results to a largely empty count centre, returning officer Ciaran Keogh said the total electorate was 85,951. The total poll was 44,891. Invalid ballot papers amounted to 736. This meant that the valid poll was 44,155.
Dr Ray Griffin, Lecturer in strategy in WIT, said he was slightly disappointed that it didn’t go through. “I thought that a Mayor had the potential to crystallise a positive vision for Waterford and progress the city and county.”
Dr Griffin said the quality of the engagement was what swayed the voters. He said the quality was not what it should be. “I think cost got out of the gate very quickly and was framed as the downside and there was no one really articulating for the upside. It is really important to reflect that the people advocating for this did not do a campaign in Waterford. They’ve complicated internal politics within Fine Gael in relation to John Deasy, which means there was no one here advocating for it. Whereas in Cork and Limerick where they have vibrant Fine Gael alpha silver back politicians selling it.
“To a certain extent it is a protest vote. The key issue is we didn’t get the boundary extension and there was a perception that it was from the same stable,” he said. Dr Griffin said a clarifying debate was needed.
Cllr John Hearne, who previously served as Metropolitan Mayor, said he was delighted that the people voted no. He said the argument was clouded by the “big money”. “That was completely wrong. You need someone who loves the city and county and not the money to run it,” he said.