Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas has until the end of January to make the most closely watched call in WA politics and decide whether he will join the Liberal Party and seek preselection for Churchlands. Liberal State Council on Saturday signed-off on the closing dates for the party’s first raft of preselections, which include seats that will be heavily targeted at State and Federal elections expected to occur within weeks of each other in the first half of 2025. The closing date for candidate nominations in Churchlands — held by Labor MP Christine Tonkin on a notional margin of 1.6 per cent following the recent redistribution of electoral boundaries — is February 28. However, Liberal Party rules require all candidates to have been members of the party for at least 30 days prior to putting their hand up to contest a seat. That means the countdown is on, with Mr Zempilas — who is not currently a member of the Liberals — forced to sign-up prior to January 29 if he intends to nominate for his home seat of Churchlands. While technically not required to disclose his membership of a political party to the City of Perth, it is believed a decision to join the Liberals would be the trigger for a public announcement. Mr Zempilas — an employee of Seven West Media, publisher of The West Australian — has for years been linked to a run at State Parliament for the Liberals. He has never outright denied those ambitions. Since being re-elected as Perth Mayor in October, Mr Zempilas has adopted an approach of claiming his “focus right now” is on the CBD council. “We’re on track for a record Christmas and summer period and all of my energy is directed toward ensuring our festive season in the city is a huge success,” he said on Sunday. In recent weeks — as Mr Zempilas and the State Government have traded barbs over the shuttering of a female-only homeless shelter in East Perth — there has been a notable increase in hostility towards the Perth Mayor from Premier Roger Cook and his Cabinet. On Friday, Mr Cook called on Mr Zempilas to declare his hand while insisting he did not regard the media personality as a threat. “I know the Lord Mayor has been telling everyone who listens that he intends to run for the Liberal Party,” the Premier said. “It’s about time he comes clean to the people of Perth and makes his intentions clear.” The first wave of nominations for Liberal preselection closes on January 17 and focuses on seats held by an incumbent: Cottesloe, Vasse, O’Connor, Durack, Moore and Canning. Cottesloe MP David Honey is facing a challenge from Property Council WA executive director Sandra Brewer and former Cottesloe councillor Kirsty Barrett, with the field of prospective candidates tipped to widen further. In Moore, Ian Goodenough is also expected to be face an insurrection from RSLWA chief executive and former Stirling MP Vince Connelly and potentially former journalist and Afghanistan veteran Matt Moran. Mr Moran has also been advanced as Mr Zempilas’ primary threat in Churchlands. Once incumbent seats are squared away, nominations for Liberal preselection in a swag of State and Federal electorates viewed as winnable close progressively over the next six weeks. They include Kalgoorlie, Riverton, Dawesville, South Perth, Jandakot, Bateman, Curtin and Forrest (all on January 31); Murray-Wellington, Forrestfield, Mount Lawley, the Senate and Legislative Council (February 14) and finally Hillarys, Carine, Scarborough, Nedlands, Churchlands and Tangney on February 28.