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Council election shake-up

Nillumbik shake-up: new faces for Sugarloaf and Mullum Mullum

THE people have voted and Nillumbik’s Sugarloaf Ward and Manningham’s Mullum Mullum Ward have elected new councillors in this year’s council elections.

Only one incumbent will return to Nillumbik council in a boilover election, which was expected given the controversial lead-up surrounding landscape and environmental overlay amendments.

Peter Perkins was the only candidate to land more than 50 per cent of first preference votes but will be seated alongside a near clean sweep of new faces in the Nillumbik chamber.

Jane Ashton emerged victorious from a field of 14 candidates in Sugarloaf while Andrew Conlon was one of three councillors elected in Mullum Mullum, joining re-elected councillors Paul McLeish and Sophy Galbally.

Ashton registered 54 per cent of Sugarloaf’s 5800 voters as the ward witnessed its largest ever number of candidates running for election since it was restructured by the Victorian Electoral Commission in 2008.

Sugarloaf’s new councillor said she was looking forward to the role ahead and working in such a picturesque environment.

“I’m humbled by the support I received and it’s important to thank Ken King for his eight years of service as the previous Sugarloaf councillor,” Ashton said. “This must be one of the most beautiful wards in Victoria and I just love the diversity of the landscape and the wonderful people who live here. I am so excited,” she added.

Ashton also emphasized her commitment to reviewing the C81 and C101 amendments and stressed the importance of working together as a community on issues such as the Warrandyte Bridge.

“The election result was a clear mandate for change, with an overwhelming majority of rural residents voting to reject the controversial C81 and C101. So, obviously the first thing I want to see is these amendments reviewed,” she said.

“I want to reassure people that I do not want to dismantle the Green Wedge, but there was definitely a level of anger and frustration in the community about the ever increasing divide between the reality of living in Nillumbik, particularly around fire mitigation, property management and the micro management and prescriptive attitude of the previous council.

“Good sustainable land management is essential, but you achieve this by working with the community, not by alienating them,” Ashton explained.

“I am looking forward to the bridge widening in Warrandyte being completed as quickly as possible and will in the longer term lobby for a North East Ring road, which would not only reduce traffic congestion in Warrandyte, but also in other areas of Nillumbik.”

Over 23,000 voters took part in Mullum Mullum’s election and with a voter turnout of just under 80 per cent, the contest was considerably close.

Conlon was not only the new face on the Manningham Council block but he also received the most votes in the ward, claiming the highest percentage of votes at 16 per cent.

McLeish and Galbally received 12.95 per cent and 10.34 per cent respectively to remain as councillors. Outgoing councillor, Meg Downie, narrowly missed out with 9.30 per cent.

Conlon said the opportunity to represent Mullum Mullum was exciting and he is eager to start as a councillor.

“It’s a great honour. I hope to serve the people of Mullum Mullum and Manningham as well as I can for the next four years and I’m thoroughly looking forward to it,” he said.

“I’m hoping to ensure Manningham can reduce the risk of bush fire and it will be great working on behalf of the rate payers and residents of Manningham.

Who’s in for Manningham:

Heide Ward: Geoff Gough (returning), Paula Piccinini, Michelle Kleinert (returning). Koonung: Dot Haynes (re- turning), Anna Chen, Mike Za ropoulos. Mullum Mullum: Andrew Conlon, Paul Mc- Leish (returning), Sophy Gal- bally (returning).

Sugarloaf: Jane Ashton. Blue Lake: Grant Brooker. Bunjil: Karen Egan. Edendale: John Dumaresq. Ellis: Peter Per- kins. Swipers Gully: Bruce Ranken. Wingrove: Peter Clark.

Re-elected Cr McLeish said he was delighted to continue working with people in the Mullum Mullum Ward and paid tribute to departing councillor Meg Downie.

“I’m honoured and humbled by the opportunity. Our community has been very generous to re-elect me and consider me a worthy representative on their behalf, I’m looking forward to delivering for them,” he said.

“I’d like to thank Meg Downie for her dedication as a councillor who served her community very well.”

McLeish also singled out Warrandyte’s traffic dilemmas as a key issue that needs addressing.

“I will continue to press the case with the State Government to do the research and understand the nature of the traffic situation in Warrandyte. I’m very keen to see the right planning schemes in place and make sure any development doesn’t overwhelm the character of the area,” he said.

McLeish said the close election in the ward was representative of the many hard working candidates who ran in the election.

“Every organisation needs renewal,” said McLeish. “There’s four new councillors for Manningham and it’s great to see all the candidates who ran are community-minded people who would’ve made a positive impact to Manningham.”

Galbally echoed the sentiments of her Mullum Mullum colleague, pointing out that many of the ward’s candidates are already great contributors to the community.

“People who are willing to give up their time for committees and organisations that benefit the community is a great indication of the standard of candidates that took part in the election,” she said.

The re-elected councillor said she was thrilled to work with an updated council and also highlighted the importance of communication between councillors and residents in Mullum Mullum.

“I’m really grateful to the community and everyone who voted for me. It’s wonderful to have the encouragement to keep going and continuing to represent the community,” Galbally said.

“I expect it to be an even better council now that there’s a few fresh faces. I look forward to working with them all. People need to know that councillors are there for them on the big issues as well as smaller things. It’s important for us to listen to the community to help solve issues both big and small.”

Council elections arrive

Elections are underway. Look closely at the candidates…and their promises, writes Val Polley

We’re having elections again – this time it’s local government elections this month.

We don’t have to turn out and queue this time, however. It’s a postal ballot in both Nillumbik
 and Manningham but if we intend to treat it seriously there’s some work to do. Local government is the closest level of government to where we actually live. It deserves some of our time to give some attention to the candidates and their promises.

North Warrandyte sits in the Sugarloaf Ward of Nillumbik Shire Council. This is a single councillor ward and there are 14 nominations to ll the seat left vacant by Ken King who has retired. Warrandyte is included in the Mullum Mullum Ward of Manningham City Council. It sees the three sitting councillors renominating as well as a further 10 nominations for the three seats. With the move to postal ballots the only guaranteed information voters can access comes via the candidates’ own 200 or so word CV.

These can be found on the Victorian Electoral Commission website. They should also be included in the posted out papers.

If you care about the issues in Warrandyte then it pays to read through the candidates’ CVs and what they have to say on our two page spread showcasing them on pages 14-15 of the Warrandyte Diary, October 2016 edition.

There are very few public meetings, door knocks and personal interaction. Very few of us will meet our candidates before we fill out our ballot papers. It comes down to their words to capture your interest and encourage you to vote for them.

When looking for your ideal candidates there are a few things to keep in mind. Have they submitted a CV?

If so, look at what they write. Are they truly involved in the community through sport, schools, organisations or other interests or just paying lip service to community involvement? This can be a major indicator of their real interest in being a councillor. If they haven’t provided a CV then are they really serious about their chances of election?

Are they standing on just one particular issue? The work of a councillor is all encompassing and councillors have to be involved across the range of subjects that will come before them.

Do you want them to be independent or can they represent a political party?

The Greens candidates have clearly stated their allegiance. Other candidates’ possible party allegiances appear more opaque.

Are they setting preferences in their CV to benefit one particular group looking for specific outcomes? Recent Electoral Act changes were designed to eliminate the practice of dummy candidates, it remains to be seen if this will be the case.

Would you like them to live locally?

Both wards are very large and a truly local representative can often be a major asset. Incumbents enjoy a privileged position. Their names are usually more recognisable particularly if they have played a major role in the local community.

That said, do you want to re-elect a sitting councillor? Is their record good enough, how long have they served and have you been pleased with their efforts on your behalf?

Being a councillor is an arduous four year long round of meetings, decisions, negotiations and con- stituent involvement across the whole of the City or Shire. It is not for the faint hearted and indeed it is very encouraging for local democracy that so many of our fellow residents are prepared to put up their hand for the privilege of serving their community.

If we want the best possible out- come for these elections and the next four years then we must take the time and make a balanced and considered decision on how to mark that important ballot paper. If not we will have no-one to blame but ourselves if we don’t like the result.