Victorians will vote for new municipal councils between today and October 22. The new councils will be elected for a four year term.
It’s appropriate to consider the commitment of the people who offer themselves as our representatives at the level of government closest to our community.
Since the start of this council term in November 2012 there have been two Federal and one Victorian election. Many seats in those elections have been contested by municipal councillors who had been elected on the presumption they would serve the local community for a four year term.
In the City of Monash, of 11 Councillor positions, the list looks like this:
2013 Federal Election
Cr Geoff Lake (Glen Waverley ward) was preselected by the ALP for the seat of Hotham but returned to council after internal factional shenanigans kicked him out days before he would have been obliged to resign from council.
2014 State Election
Cr Steve Dimopoulos (Oakleigh ward), ALP, stood in the seat of Oakleigh. He was elected and resigned from council. Stefanie Perri, having been defeated as the ALP candidate for Box Hill was elected by countback to fill the vacancy.
Cr Theo Zographos (Oakleigh ward), Liberal, stood for Oakleigh and returned to council after defeat.
Cr Robert Davies (Mulgrave ward), Liberal, stood for Mulgrave and returned to council after defeat.
Cr Paul Klisaris (Mulgrave ward), ALP, unsuccessfully sought preselection for Prahran.
2016 Federal Election
Cr Stefanie Perri (Oakleigh ward), ALP, resigned from council while Mayor to stand in Chisholm. Defeated. Replaced on council by Nga Hosking after a countback.
Cr Paul Klisaris (Mulgrave ward ), ALP, resigned from council to stand in Aston. Defeated. Replaced by John Starkey on countback.
That’s six of our elected representatives using council as a political career stepping stone. For State elections, a councillor is not required to resign, rather they take leave from close of nominations until declaration of the poll. During that period, they are not representing the council ward by which they were elected. Once nominations close in the Federal elections a councillor must resign thereby allowing the electoral commission to promptly conduct a countback election for a replacement councillor.
In this council term (running until October 2020) there is expected to be a Victorian State election in 2018 and a Federal election in 2019. Which candidates standing for council are planning to quit their role, if elected, and stand for one of these elections?
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a councillor being a member of a political party. This is only a problem when the membership combines with career ambitions incompatible with a commitment to serve residents and ratepayers.
When considering your vote this election it’s worth asking your prospective candidates about the duration of their commitment.