Socialist councillor Sam Wainwright is one of three Fremantle councillors facing a challenge in the local government elections that open on September 26. Mayor Brad Pettitt, a member of the Greens, also faces a challenge from defeated federal Liberal candidate Matthew Hanssen.
The city of Fremantle has a relatively progressive council. All the challengers are more conservative than the incumbents.
Wainwright was the first Socialist Alliance member in Australia to be elected to a local government position in 2009. He has won wide respect in the Fremantle area as an activist who speaks up for workers' rights, sustainable transport and human rights. He runs FreoReport.net, which documents his role on council.
He is being challenged by Frank Acocella. Acocella is a former councillor who runs an ongoing commentary on his Facebook page against the Greens and the Labor Party.
As the election takes place, WA Premier Colin Barnett will continue to try to force amalgamations of metropolitan councils. He aims to halve the number of councils. Wainwright opposes the amalgamation plans. He said they would be a blessing for developers, but an affront to community democracy.
There is strong popular opposition to amalgamations. A Liberal Party room vote was supposed to take place on September 17. It is widely speculated that Barnett did not have enough support from his own party to guarantee passage of the legislation through the upper house.
Cockburn City Council has also voted against the proposed amalgamation with Kwinana.
Fremantle council has opposed the state government's proposal to amalgamate Fremantle and Melville. But its submission to the government offers to carve off the suburb of Samson. Wainwright has campaigned to respect the fact that most Samson residents wish to remain in Fremantle.