How marvellous that we have robust local newspapers where Letters to the Editor are encouraged, covering all sorts of views.
Looking back over the last 13 years that I have been a resident here I can see how many changes there have been in council, and in fact all local organisations, regarding their responsibilities, governance requirements and transparency and the community’s increased expectation of this.
Upheaval is often a part of change as can be seen by: the Old Guard of Council (as they seem to be called now) being ‘sacked’ with six of the nine being voted out by the community; with the last council ‘sacking’ the CEO Tim Tamlin; by that council in turn being ‘sacked’ and then the Local Government Minister of the time, Adem Somyurek having his turn at being ‘sacked’!
There has been skullduggery, misinformation, factionalism and issues of poor governance from all sides!
There remains remnants of this in our community with ‘us vs them’ and ‘before and after’ and now ‘Green versus climate denial laggards’!
Any previous councillor who is running again therefore has to demonstrate that they can and have overcome factionalism, including what they plan to do if they can’t, e.g., be part of a controlling majority block of councillors.
Otherwise, it’s same old same old.
Every candidate wants to restore trust in council and, of course, there are environmental and economic challenges but, as well as listening, the respectfully and actively finding of common ground with the disparate groups in our wonderful community is what I value.
How important and respectful I believe it is to read all the carefully thought-out responses from our candidates.
And yes, maybe finding out if they have any funding and whether they have politically paid-for campaign managers and large advertising and what that actually means in terms of a level playing field?
We are not a wealthy shire and some previous candidates have been pensioners who have, however, been able to maintain true financial independence as candidates and certainly haven’t relied upon apparent personal wealth or slush funds!
How? Financial independence is possible and shown, and most importantly known to us, by a candidate’s long-term, local community-based networks happily providing any small financial encouragement if needed for what is actually a relatively small, local, very community-based election!
Having time, respect, humility, networks and local knowledge is worth more to a candidate’s chances than money. And for me, a sense of humour.
Further, being a councillor, from all accounts, requires a lot of grunt work – understanding governance and processes, attending lots of meetings, reading screeds of reports and analysing millions of dollars’ worth of budget – all in order to ensure then an informed process of decision-making.
For that, at least some interest, understanding of and experience in such matters is not only required but essential as a base before any ideology.
I thank all the candidates for putting their hands up. Their views deserve our careful consideration so we can all be more informed and active participants in our hard-won democracy.
Marion Ryan, Foster.