Opinion

Pause for thought: it’s council election time

By James Bennett

A new era dawns in Greater Shepparton.

This October's local government election will have lasting implications for our future and the next four years will present a complex task in creating the direction we forge.

Four of the nine sitting Greater Shepparton City councillors have said they won't be running, leaving open the position for new faces, their ideas and the opportunity to be heard.

Council will continue to grow Greater Shepparton during and post a global health pandemic; not a walk-in-the-park.

The timing of this election and new councillors is fitting for the road to recovery.

But what do voters need to consider? Here's a few questions.

Four, five or six newbies?

Electing at least four new councillors means voters are spoilt for choice; that's not necessarily an easy task considering the strength of candidates.

This election will indicate the popularity of the current council.

Although at least four positions for new councillors are up for grabs, it doesn't guarantee the re-election of the five current councillors.

Punters might be tempted to back more than four new people being elected; maybe even six people.

A more bizarre timeline would see voters going completely rouge and electing nine new councillors, but that's unlikely.

A promise isn't set in stone.

There's the possibility some candidates will promise to deliver something for the community. It's a risky choice of words.

Just because one promises a policy that is seemingly flawless doesn't mean their colleagues will go along with it, or that staff will present a recommendation for council to consider.

Political parties at state or federal elections can make these promises because normally they have enough support to pass bills. But at the council level it's a little harder.

Promises are usually with good intentions and it still shouldn't deter voters away from a candidate.

But candidates will need to be careful making promises, because if they don't deliver their legitimacy comes into question if they seek re-election in four years.

Keep it clean

This Thursday nominations open and we'll find out the official field of candidates the following week.

It's quite clear at this stage who is running based on social media pages and the ‘vote 1’ billboards decorating the town but there's a chance for more people to come forward.

If the Victorian Government eases COVID-19 restrictions it will make it easier for all candidates to get out into the community more and run quality campaigns.

Politics, but in particular elections, can bring out the worst behaviour. This is evident from vandalism on some candidate billboards.

Unfortunately some people don't care about the election but still think it's funny that they attack others with sexist comments and racist symbols.

Those type of remarks drag our region into the gutter and play a part in why respected community members show no interest in running for council.

There's no doubt the candidates that have been subjected to attacks will rise above them and focus on what needs to be done.