EIGHTEEN candidates have nominated for the Bass Coast Shire election, with several more expected to be confirmed before today’s midday closing time.
As of yesterday (Monday), one ward remained uncontested: Peter Foden was the only name on the list for McHaffie Ward.
But it is almost a certainty other candidates will contest McHaffie and other candidates by today.
And while pre-nomination announcements from candidates indicated Hovell Ward would be more hotly contested than others, it was Townsend Ward that had generated the most interest, with four candidates (including incumbent Ross Smith) raising their hands to represent the Inverloch area.
Daily updates to the Victorian Electoral Commission’s website showed the ongoing solidarity of Hovell ward candidate Alan Brown and his Reform Team – it appeared almost all of them nominated on the same day last week.
Each candidate was required to pay a deposit of $250 when handing in their nomination forms at a booth set up in the foyer outside council chambers in Wonthaggi.
This fee is returned to candidates who are elected or they receive more than four per cent of the total number of first preference votes.
All others forfeit their deposit.
Interestingly, if a state election candidate happens to die before 6pm on election day, they’re eligible to recoup their $350 deposit.
According to the VEC’s commonly asked questions section on its site, the same rule doesn’t apply for local council elections.
Late nominations are not accepted by the VEC and an official random ballot paper draw is expected to take place later today.
Ballot packs for the postal vote are expected to be mailed to households in a fortnight and voting closes on Friday, October 26.
Results are expected to be known the following day, but the official deadline for results is Friday, November 2.
The Sentinel-Times can confirm that the candidates officially nominated as of yesterday are:

Anderson Ward
(Newhaven, Churchill Island, Anderson, Dalyston, Kilcunda, San Remo, South Dudley and Woolamai):
* Bradley Drew – Reform Team candidate; proprietor of Hillies Meat in San Remo; often seen holding his ‘Sausage King’ awards aloft in local press.
* Miranda Sage – former mayor of Bass Coast Shire, renominating after almost 10 years away from council.
* Andy Chappell – real estate agent with extensive marketing and business background; hopes to support employment opportunities; helped build the Alannah and Madeline Foundation.

Churchill Ward
(Cape Woolamai, Smiths Beach, Sunderland Bay and Surf Beach):
* Caroline Talbot – Reform Team candidate; recognised as Bass Coast Shire Citizen of the Year for 2011 after being involved in various community organisations for almost 40 years.
* Phil Wright – seeking second term as Churchill representative; passionate about planning and Phillip Island’s coastal environment.

Hovell Ward
(Most of Wonthaggi and Cape Paterson):
* Alan Brown – Reform Team leader; former state transport minister and founder of the Bass Coast Community Foundation.
* Jessica Harrison – vocal activist involved with Watershed Victoria; keen volunteer gardener and coordinator at the community garden behind Mitchell House in Wonthaggi.
* Neil Rankine – Greens candidate at last state election; clean energy advocate; Groundswell committee member.

Leadbeater Ward
(Largest Ward by area; covers Bass up to Lang Lang, waterline townships surrounding Corinella and stretches right out to Kongwak):
* Zena Benbow – Reform Team candidate; heavily involved with residents groups in Pioneer Bay and Grantville
* Clare Le Serve – founder of the Bass Valley Community Group; possesses more than 30 years of experience with community organisations.
* David Trigg – dairy farmer from Kernot; focused on supporting families and bringing new business to the area; critical of council’s expenditure on staff.

McHaffie Ward
(Ventnor, Rhyll, Wimbledon Heights and Sunset Strip):
* Peter Foden – Reform Team candidate; engineer based in Rhyll; former president of the Rhyll Progress Association.

Thompson Ward
(Cowes and surrounds):
* Maurice Schinkel – well-known activist from Cowes; dedicated attendee at various VCAT and planning panel hearings over the years; attends every monthly council meeting as a member of the gallery.
* Andrew Phillips – Reform Team candidate; chemist and founding partner of Phillip Island Pharmacy; youngest member of the Reform Team.

Townsend Ward (Inverloch and Pound Creek)
* Ross Smith – current councillor for Townsend seeking a third consecutive term; former Liberal MP.
* Roger Thorrowgood – well-known Inverloch resident; has campaigned against unregulated jet-ski use and believes speed limits around the centre of town need a review.
* Jordan Crugnale – fought a pair of special charge schemes along with a group of residents last year, resulting in council abandoning the projects; has over 20 years of experience in the education, health and arts sectors.
* Murray Hooper – Reform Team candidate; has worked as a veterinarian in South Gippsland for more than 40 years; owns a large beef and sheep property at Tarwin Lower

Other candidates expected to nominate before closing time include:
* John Duscher (will have served as a councillor for three decades if elected again for Hovell)
* Gareth Barlow (current Churchill Ward representative, now nominating for Anderson)
* Kimberley Brown (independent candidate for McHaffie)
* Gabby Fenech (nominating for McHaffie Ward)
Whatever the final tally is this afternoon, this election is a far cry from the apathetic response to 2008s call for nominations when four councillors were elected unopposed.