SENTINEL-TIMES COMMENT

CANDIDATES, and elected councillors for that matter, make the mistake of thinking that most people give a toss. They don’t.

They’ve been conditioned by council behaviour and lack of genuine engagement to feel that way.

The other mistake candidates make is thinking that people in the community are dumb, that if you tell them something that is patently untrue or obviously tricky, they won’t see it – they will.

We have that situation going on ahead of the South Gippsland Shire Council election, where voting starts in earnest this week, but you know what, the voters usually get it right.

There are a few things of which you should be aware.

There has been a concerted effort this election, by forces keen to see immediate action on climate change, to get a strong voice on the new council.

If you want that, find the candidates committed to action on climate change and vote for them.

But be careful where your preferences go because some candidates with tricky agendas are hoping to get in on the back of this important issue.

If your priorities include other issues, find the candidates that place emphasis on those as well.

Two opposing groups of candidates have also emerged in the run up to the election, those that want to make a clean break from the last council, and those that say it’s important to have some continuity and experience; that there’s nothing wrong with councillors from the past regime being re-elected.

Again, it’s up to the voters.

Strzelecki Ward candidate Jim Forbes put out a stylised ‘How to Vote’ card in which he has made it clear to voters that two of his opponents, Andrew McEwen and Frank Hirst, were among the ‘sacked’ group.

While a local publication associated with former mayor Don Hill, has put out a so-called ‘Grading Scale’ on the alleged suitability of each candidate, and surprise, surprise, it has rated five of the frontrunners; John Schelling, Clare Williams, Mohya Davies, Jim Forbes and Jenni Keerie, as “red – not the best”.

So, even if the election doesn’t rate for you, the fact is that you’ve got to vote, or pay a fine, so you might as well make it count. And who knows, we might even get a council that ultimately does earn our respect.

Who should you vote for? That’s up to you.