Like many people across the Eurobodalla, I am staggered at the number of people standing for election.
Fifty-four candidates for eight councillor positions, way more than in any of the other 151 NSW local councils. Twenty-one of them are also standing for the “popularly elected” mayor, again way more than any other council with a similar arrangement. Nine is apparently the next closest.
So why so many in the Eurobodalla?
For some it is a genuine desire to contribute to our community and reflect its diversity.
Some say it’s because the community has lost confidence in council and, while there is some truth in that, I am saddened by the lip service many candidates are giving to these claims.
The main reason for such large numbers appears to be manipulation.
An increasing number of voters, myself included, are viewing the deliberate “shotgun approach” of fielding candidates, as evidenced in this election, as a cynical manipulation of the preferential voting system.
The election of mayor, in particular, worries me.
The mayor will be the face of Eurobodalla Shire for the next four years; we can’t afford a dud so we need to get it right.
The mayor has to be able to work with councillors, have the respect and support of the majority of them, be able to work with the executive staff of council, and build relationships with all levels of government.
So how to systematically filter through the 21 “wannabees”?
Well, I have started to imagine each mayoral candidate in turn sitting around a table with a government minister, senior NSW bureaucrats and the shire’s general manager discussing some major issue.
I ask myself, who could best represent the shire with dignity and integrity, be able to hold their own in such company, be sufficiently well informed to discuss the issue intelligently with a full overview of council’s position, have some negotiating abilities, and have an understanding of the broader picture at local, state and federal level.
The seats vacate very quickly.
I will apply a similar process to selecting councillors, with slightly different criteria but always an ability to behave appropriately and with respect and integrity.
Roll on September 8!
Laurelle Pacey, Narooma