Nick Reece to run for top job

When The Sunday Age asked Reece about his financial backers for the election, Reece did not say if he would disclose them before polling day, but committed to rejecting donations from property developers, the tobacco industry and gambling businesses.

Under Victorian law, candidates in council elections don’t have to submit details of their donations until 40 days after the election. This masthead will ask all candidates to declare their donors.

Reece in his lord mayoral robes during the week.

Reece in his lord mayoral robes during the week.Credit: Justin McManus

The cost of running a mayoral campaign has been estimated at $250,000 to $500,000.

In 2020, Reece ran on a “Team Capp” joint ticket, with the Capp campaign amassing more than $316,000 in donations, topped by $25,000 from Pratt Holdings, associated with one of Australia’s richest men, Anthony Pratt.

Council insiders have said the race for lord mayor is likely to come down to Reece and another former deputy mayor, Arron Wood, who is tipped to reveal whether he will run in the coming weeks.

Reece, who lives with his family in Carlton, was one of the founders of men’s charity Movember, which raises money to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s suicide.

He was first elected to the Melbourne council in 2016, when he ran with Wood on the ticket of disgraced former lord mayor Robert Doyle, a former leader of the Victorian Liberal Party, before serving as Capp’s deputy for several years.

While he ran as an independent in 2016 and 2020, Reece’s history working with Gillard and other Labor leaders – including former state premiers John Brumby and Steve Bracks – has prompted questions about his political allegiances.

With Adam Sims – a former media director to premier Daniel Andrews is now managing partner in a consultancy launched by some of Andrews’ closest former advisors – aiding Reece’s lord mayoral campaign, these questions are unlikely to disappear.

Asked if he was prepared to challenge the Labor state government on behalf of the people and businesses of Melbourne, Reece reiterated he was running as an independent candidate.

“I will only have one boss, and that is the people of Melbourne,” he said.

Reece has promised to attract more events to Melbourne and make the city more appealing for businesses. He wants to increase the number of local markets in inner-city neighbourhoods, and has also committed to delivering the Greenline project, despite ongoing funding challenges.

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