Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp to stand down in June to ‘seek new opportunities’

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp has announced she won’t run for the role again at the next local government elections in October.

Ms Capp revealed this morning she would step away from the role after six years as the city’s mayor “to seek new opportunities.”

“The City of Melbourne was in dire need of leadership when I was elected as lord mayor in 2018,” she said.

“There were significant internal and external issues — including a culture of unacceptable councillor behaviour and delays on major projects, such as the renewal of Queen Victoria Market.”

Ms Capp said she expected to finish in the role in June and would work with the council and CEO “on an orderly transition plan.”

The 56-year-old was elected mayor in May 2018 in a by-election following the resignation of Robert Doyle amid sexual harassment allegations.

She was re-elected in November 2020 for another four-year term.

Ms Capp told ABC Radio Melbourne that she was content with her decision to stand down.

“Look, mixed emotions because it’s been such an honour, and a privilege to be lord mayor. I have loved every bit of it. But I do think it’s time for me to move,” she said.

“I won’t finish until the end of June, we’re focused on stability and good governance. But I feel a sense of resolve around this decision. There’s been a lot achieved but it’s my time to go.”

Highs and lows as lord mayor

Ms Capp listed the redevelopment of the Queen Victoria Market precinct and the Greenline project along the Yarra River among her highlights as lord mayor.

She said she was also proud to be the first woman to be directly elected as Melbourne lord mayor and just the third woman to serve in the role.

“I am overwhelmed as many are that there have only ever been three female lord mayors out of 104,” she said.

“It actually takes quite a lot of courage just to put your hand up and campaign. I really hope that with my encouragement more people and more women in particular will consider running for public office.”

An altered sign outside Melbourne reading "Veni Covidi-19 Vici"

Ms Capp said the COVID-19 lockdowns in Melbourne were the toughest times of her stint as lord mayor.(ABC News: Darcy Hodgson)

Ms Capp, who was an executive director of the Property Council before entering local government, said the COVID-19 lockdowns and their impact on the city were a low point during her tenure as lord mayor.

“That was such a massive negative impact of COVID on our city that was so bustling and so vibrant,” she said.

“To see now the city back on this very positive trajectory is important to me and it’s really given me the opportunity to contemplate what else I might be able to do.”

Deputy mayor to step up 

Ms Capp’s decision to stand down will see deputy mayor Nicholas Reece step into the position in late June.

Mr Reece will hold the position until the local government elections in October, but is yet to declare whether he will stand as a candidate.

“It’ll be up to Nick to really shape and share his story on what his future plans are,” Ms Capp said.

“I know that he’s still got a lot of passion to unleash and it’s that sort of passion that will be a hallmark of his leadership too.”

Nicholas Reece stands leaning against a brick wall

Nicholas Reece will step into the role of lord mayor when Sally Capp departs.(Supplied)

Media personality and former federal senator Derryn Hinch announced last week he was pulling out of the lord mayoral race.

Mr Hinch said he he could not afford the cost of running at the October election amid ongoing health issues.

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