Half-Time in the Election Race

As the voting packs hit the letterboxes it marks the half way point between nominating and the count on 17th October.  It is a good time to reflect on the process so far and what should voters look for in their preferred candidate.  In South Ward there have been some issues raised, and I will address those first.
Two candidates are running on similar tickets, that of community representation, they both promise to listen to the community, but as of yet have not explained how they would do this.  Belinda did a great job organising a ‘Meet the Candidates’ event on Thursday evening.  At this we were told by both these candidates that community engagement was time wasting and the annual community survey was a waste of money.  These are 2 important ways Council gets to understand what is important for the community, without them I simply do not understand how Council can be aware of community sentiment on broad ranging issues.
I guess this leads onto preparedness for the role of Councillor.  In the years leading up to my initial election in 2005 I had been an active member of the South Fremantle precinct and being involved in several community issues.  In the months leading up to the election I attended many Council and committee meeting to inform myself of how the process worked and what the current issues were.  I also attended a workshop run by the City for prospective candidates.  I had done my apprenticeship and was ready to move into the role.  Conversely I do not see in the candidates pushing for change any preparedness for the role they are asking the electorate to vote them into.  I think the voters will be very wary of their capacity to undertake the role.
I attend many Local Government meetings across the South Metro area and I can tell you there is a lot of respect for how Fremantle Council is performing in our role.  There has been a lot of work turning Fremantle’s fortunes around while being very cognisant of the communities dislike for developer driven outcomes and high density.  It has been a hard path, but the work is now creating results.  Check out Transformational Moves to get the picture.
When voting remember, it is the future of Fremantle you are considering be sure the person you vote for has the capacity and experience to perform the role of Councillor.

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2 Responses to Half-Time in the Election Race

  1. Paul says:

    Thats all well and good, but what are you actually doing for the South Ward?
    Consultative Surveys and engagement are fine, but if you’re just agreeing with people to keep thier heads nodding, then whats the point? The residents need a strong voice who’ll actually question whats going on in the council chambers and whats going on behind the scenes, someone who’ll challenge the status quo, talk about the problems, but also actually propose some creative solutions.
    Its time for a creative change in South Ward.

  2. jonstrachan says:

    Thanks for the question Paul. The current issues I am committed to in South Ward are all ones that came from the community. One is the upgrade of South Terrace from South Street to Douro Road which will develop a village centre. This will slow traffic and make the Terrace safer. Look out for the community engagement so you can have your say. The other is a boat exclusion zone at South Beach to make swimming safer.
    I am also working with Officers to try to implement Community forums to give the Fremantle community some say in the direction of the discretionary budget. I take the results of the community survey, which is done by an independent expert company, very seriously. You may be aware there are issues in the survey where Council is not doing well on. I do not shy away from this, I will work with other elected members to address those shortcomings. But we do need the information provided in the survey to make good choices.
    Each week Councillors make many decisions in the chamber, and we all question the reports and recommendations, that is one of the major roles of a Councillor. I’m not sure what you mean by what is going on behind the scenes? The current status quo is a Council that applies open and accountable decision making to arrive at good outcomes for Fremantle and the Community.
    I agree with you we always need to apply creativity to issues, “do what you’ve always done and you get what you always got”.
    If you have a mental picture of Fremantle Council meetings as some sort of conservative old boys club engaged in group think you could not be further from the truth. Do attend a Council meeting and see the vast array of solutions to make Fremantle a better place. You will like some of the ideas, and not like others, that is what good democracy is about, testing all options and making well considered choices.
    Lastly on the issue of Ward representation. In Western Australia the Ward system allows the community a better chance of selecting a candidate from their area, this is held out by all 4 South Ward candidates coming from within the ward. However once the chosen candidate is sworn in they govern for the whole of Fremantle, not just their ward and there are penalties under the Local Government Act for Councillors who do not do this. Some Local Governments choose remove this confusion by not to have a ward system. In Fremantle that would run the risk of a Council being dominated by CBD candidates, having the suburban areas being well represented gives a far better mix of ideas.
    I again say, do vote, and when voting do consider which candidate has the capacity and commitment to lead Fremantle to a better place, do not initiate change for changes sake, because I do believe it will not be a change for the better.

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