Having fought and won a campaign to prevent the merger of Shoalhaven and Kiama councils, the community rightly expects the election of the new council to be conducted in a respectful and transparent fashion.
Having witnessed four years of untidy and at times acrimonious debate on the floor of council andaccusationsof bullying andexclusion of councillors not on the majority team, voters are hankering for a change in behaviour.
A departure from block voting also appears to be a major concern, one obviously recognised by Team Gash.
At the announcement of candidates on Monday, Mayor Joanna Gash stridently assured the media her team was made up of like-minded individuals. And new candidates Barry McCaffery and Katrina Condie were at great pains to reinforce the point.
Cr Gash also batted aside questions about her close political relationship with Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis, whose recent lacklustre campaign she managed while taking leave from her civic duties. Whether voter dissatisfaction with Mrs Sudmalis’s performance will reflect on Team Gash remains to be seen. There is, however, a perceptible thirst for a loosening of longstanding grips on local power.
Whatever happens, voters have not reacted particularly well to the early shots fired in the campaign, namelythe distribution of a flyer authorised by G. Nosworthy, who in the past has lent his name to Greg Watson’s campaign. There is an expectation that local politics should be conducted in a more polite fashion than what is experienced at state and federal levels.
There is also a desire for a pause –a decent interval -in the politics to which we have been exposed for what will seem like an eternity come September 10.
With the announcement of candidates –a field well represented by former media people –the political chatter will intensify but if the community is to stay engaged it should at least be civil. And if any team takes the high ground of having policyrather than personality platforms its chances at the ballot box will be vastly improved.
With fresh faces entering the council race –among them three well known former media people who have witnessed destructive local politicsover the years –it is reasonable to expect a better standard of campaign this time around and a more balanced council after the process. Good government requires alternative viewpoints.
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