The decision was made following a motion of notice by councillor David Boothman at last night’s council meeting.
It drew applause from the gallery, of which many had stayed into the meeting’s fifth hour to hear the resolution.
More than 70 per cent of respondents supported election of the mayor by voters in the October referendum.
Crs Boothman and David Lagan stressed the importance of listening the residents’ wishes, but Cr Karen Caddy spoke in favour of retaining the existing system of the mayor being chosen by councillors.
“I think democracy works best when everyone has an opportunity,” she said.
“I’m concerned we will end up with someone with very deep pockets or someone who has political party backing.”
She acknowledged the result but interpreted it as ratepayers wanting greater transparency.
Cr Adam Spagnolo said given his experience of the recent campaign, politics was already part of local government.
“You will never ever get rid of politics,” he said.
Speaking against the motion, former mayor Cr Giovanni Italiano was concerned the current system had two-year terms for mayors but this would change to four years and the mayor would not be “one of us”.
“We can’t get things up if it’s not one of us,” he said.
“I’m not convinced it should change.
“We haven’t talked amongst ourselves to discuss it.”
Cr Boothman, who initiated the investigation into changing the process, believed there were inherent problems either way but cited the cities of Joondalup and Wanneroo as positive examples of the popularly elected mayor system.
He said some candidates spent a lot on their campaigns already so did not think it should be a consideration.
“People can see who’s in the community, it’s not just about how much they spend,” he said.
The motion carried, with Crs Caddy and Italiano voting against it and Cr Elizabeth Re absent from the chamber.
The new voting system will take effect at the next council election on October 19, 2019.