Labour has narrowed down the list of potential applicants running to replace Joe Anderson as the party’s directly-elected Liverpool mayor candidate to an all-women shortlist of three local representatives.
After the longlisting process reviewing applications and interviews conducted on Monday, it has been decided that the next Labour Liverpool mayor candidate will be Wendy Simon, Ann O’Byrne or Anna Rothery.
A one-member-one-vote ballot is set to open on February 17th and close at noon on March 5th, allowing local Labour activists to have their say on who should replace Anderson after the incumbent was suspended.
Wendy Simon is currently acting mayor, Ann O’Byrne is a former deputy mayor, and Anna Rothery is the current Lord mayor. All three women are Liverpool councillors. The city is likely to have its first female leader in May.
Simon was first elected to the council in 2007 and was a senior social worker until resigning from the job in December. She told the Liverpool Echo: “I’m quite proud to be a safe pair of hands and what we need right now is stability.”
O’Byrne quit as deputy mayor in 2018, accusing Anderson of failing to listen to others after her ally Nick Small was sacked as assistant mayor. She has tried in the past to scrap the mayor role and backs a return to the leader/cabinet model.
The Labour group on Liverpool Council has confirmed that it plans to hold a referendum in 2023 on whether to keep the directly-elected city mayor post, which was held by Anderson since its creation in 2012.
Rothery was first elected to the council in 2006, and in 2019 became the first black Lord Mayor of Liverpool. When reappointed for a second term last year, she spoke out against racism amid the Black Lives Matter movement.
Anderson announced on December 10th that he was stepping aside as Liverpool mayor, following his arrest earlier that month along with four other men on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation.
The directly-elected mayor, who first took office in 2012 after serving as council leader, was administratively suspended from the Labour Party on the same day of his arrest pending the outcome of the case.
The incumbent, currently on unpaid leave, had been reselected as Labour’s candidate but confirmed on December 31st that he would not be seeking re-election. Merseyside Police rebailed him until February.
Anderson said he was “disappointed’ by the police decision. He has pledged to “continue to fight to demonstrate that I am innocent of any wrongdoing” and “protect my legacy as mayor of this city of which I am proud”.