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30 September 2020
SIR, – I commend the candidates who have nominated for the Ararat council election in October. They have taken the first step in becoming a councillor and representing their community over the next four years – no small undertaking.
For voters making up their minds how to assess these candidates, I offer the following observations, drawn from my involvement in local government during the past 35 years, originally while working in local government and then as a councillor.
• Primarily a councillor represents everyone in the community – rural, urban, general ratepayers, residents and businesses large and small.
• Ararat Rural City Council has a 2020-2021 budget of $32-million and all councillors will need the financial competency to understand and analyse what is the right budget for the municipality.
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• Councils have a myriad of policies councillors need to review and understand, covering such diverse areas as transparency, communications, interaction with the media, sexual harassment and many, many more.
• More than 200 services are provided, and councillors need to be across this diversity which includes waste management, emergency management, roads and bridges, libraries and sporting facilities.
• Councils support economic development and you need to be confident your favoured candidate is comfortable talking to the largest and smallest employer, whether urban, rural or in the villages.
• Advocacy – so much depends on the representations made by your council to all levels of government. Do you see your preferred candidates as a passionate advocate in seeking funding grants from politicians in Canberra or Spring Street?
• There is little to gain in supporting a candidate standing on a single issue that may well be important to you. As a councillor they only have one vote and need to convince the majority. Four years is a long time to have a councillor whose issue has been voted on in the first year.
• Beware a potential councillor who sets out to oppose motions. They can fulfil an important role in creating debate, but in the end the majority vote wins and opposing a motion just to be devil’s advocate is not productive and can be time-wasting.
• Most importantly, councillors need the ability to talk to the community at all levels. Understanding the community is essential when dealing with decisions made at the council table.
Good luck in choosing your candidates and good luck to the candidates who have put their hand up. If elected they will have a remarkably interesting four years ahead of them.
The entire September 30, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
The entire September 30, 2020 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!