BEAM Mitchell Environment and Mitchell Community Energy sent a questionnaire to all candidates in the 2020 Mitchell Shire Council Elections. Attached are the candidate’s responses (or lack of responses) received up to Monday 12th October and collated and annotated by Clare Daly and Peter Lockyer. Just click on the responses you want to see.
The Council Elections 2020 have posed a number of challenges, but most noticeably getting information before voters to make a choice about the type of Councillor best equipped to represent their views over the coming 3 years has been particularly challenging.
What do we know about those who seek to manage our rates and our communities for the next three years? What do they want to do on Council? What are their capabilities? Why are they seeking election? How will they manage the Council budget? Will they champion community interests?
In previous years, community meetings provided an opportunity to ‘meet the candidates’ and ask questions. This hasn’t been possible this year so BEAM Mitchell Environment Group and Mitchell Community Energy worked together to create a questionnaire for candidates around some of the key issues that council will face in the next three years – climate change, population growth, transport, energy, etc. None of these 9 questions implied Council should be committed beyond its ability, but all questions provided an opportunity to respond with Council as a leader in local action on big and urgent challenges that our communities face, as a number of other Councils in Victoria have.
The questionnaire invited thinking beyond roads, rates, rubbish and structure plans. The questionnaire also acknowledged that working together with other councils, ambitious action generates excitement in the shire and great value in health and amenity for all ratepayers.
There are 16 candidates over three wards. 5 responded within the framework of the questionnaire (albeit one was lost in the technology). 3 responded as emails outside of the framework but responding broadly to the issues. We received one email response “I have not completed it deliberately”. 7 did not respond.
While the three specific responses to the questionnaire are thoughtful and encouraging, it is disappointing that the other candidates did not take the opportunity to share their objectives and ideas with those of us who will vote. What does this say about those who seek to represent us, and to deal with the challenging issues and opportunities of our time?
We would have liked to have seen candidates think deeply and creatively, particularly in a post-Covid19 recovery requiring ambition and a different way of thinking. This won’t be the last pandemic in all probability, and disasters like droughts and fires more often than we are used to are expected in coming years. We can be more prepared, and our local Council is an important part of this preparedness- mitigation and resilience.
President, BEAM Mitchell Environment Group