Isn't it wonderful to think that 80 of our community want to be elected to council? Coming from a breadth of experiences and interests they have great motivation to lead, support and help their community improve. Interestingly, there is an almost equal gender balance.
There are 11 positions available. Given that for the last few months council has functioned with eight, one might ask why do we need more? Councillors should investigate this further post election and consider reducing the number for the next election. Perhaps seven will be sufficient.
The eight current councillors standing again are Bell (Ind), Fowler (Lib), West (Lib), Pontin (Lab), Hutchinson (Ind), Smith (Ind), Roberts (Ind) and Epov (Ind).
Three of the 13 groups are clearly identified along political party lines - the Greens, Labor and Liberal. The word 'independent' is used often by other groups - Bell, Cubis, Tickle, Miller, Corkhill, Hutchinson, Smith, Roberts, Sandilands and Epov. Just how independent are they?
There is one ungrouped candidate, Bergin.
Are you wondering where the National Party is? To answer this question you have to go deeper.
On the NSW Electoral Commission website you will find a candidate information sheet for each person standing. One of the questions asked is "Are you a member of a political party?" Here you will see that the Nationals are involved.
Whilst not labelled as a group they appear across some of the so called independent groups. So these candidates are National party members, Matt Fawcett (listed second in Jeremy Miller independent), Lance Fletcher and John Sahyoun (listed second and third in Katheryn Smith independent), Len Roberts, Mike Parsons and Cliff Hoare (listed first, second and four in Len Roberts independent).
When is a group not a group? When you have six National Party members spread through three other 'independent' groups. Perhaps a clever strategy to gain election.
There are two former councillors standing - Tickle and McWilliams. One wonders why given their previous levels of involvement as deputy mayor and mayor respectively pre-amalgamation. McWilliams resigned from the current council earlier this year indicating she had spent enough time on councils and wanted to do other things. So why are they back?
This leads onto another consideration - the age range of the candidates. There are many who are 60-plus. I am not being discriminatory in referencing this as I fit this demographic myself. I assume they consider that they have time to give to the role. Consider the need for more age diversity perhaps.
The NSW Electoral Commission also provides some brief information about the candidate's platform and objectives. You might find this useful to look at as well as those who have websites.
You need to be aware of the vested interests many of these candidates have outside of what they officially say. Once again the candidate's information sheet tells you something. Unfortunately, after the two compulsory questions, political party membership and "Are you a developer?", the rest is optional.
Those who say nothing say a great deal about themselves. Those who indicate what their qualifications and date of birth are help us more.
Why this basic information is not an essential requirement surprises me. It would seem that many of the candidates are interested in development given their work is orientated around that aspect even if they are not developers themselves. Whether this is for the common good or more self oriented we will have to see but given the track records of some, it is hard not to discount the latter.
I offer this advice for your consideration. One, ask yourself do we need to tie ourselves down along party political lines in local government?
Two, avoid voting for whole groups. Are you really getting what that group stands for? How do candidates with a political party affiliation fit the 'independent' description? Are all the group's candidates capable of really doing the job? It would seem not when you look more closely at some group members numbered 2-6/7. You will need to be selective about distributing your preferences rather than taking the easy way out and voting only above the line.
Three, whose interests are being served? Are candidates really committed to whole community representation and doing good for all?
Four, look beyond the language of transparency, accountability, values based. What do they really want to do?
Finally, make contact with them, have a chat and find out how fair dinkum they are. Ask them questions and expect answers that are not cliches and make sense to you.
Voters take care.
(Chris has no party political affiliations)