Hands up, anyone?

IN only a couple of months the Electoral Commission will call for nominations for the Local Government Elections, so who will put their hand up here in Fremantle?

The October election will only be looking for four new Freo councillors, as Fremantle Council will  reduce its wards from six to four, and as a result of that, its elected members from thirteen to nine (8 councillors+Mayor).

History shows that governments that are too one-sided are not good for democracy. (Ask former Mayor Brad Pettitt MLC about his frustration of being largely ignored as a member for the Greens by the dominant WA Labor Government). So it is imperative in left-leaning Freo, that those on the other side of the political fence also get good and proper representation, which has been missing for years.

From my observations of Fremantle Council for nearly two decades, I have a few suggestions for those who want to nominate. An effective councillor needs to be able to collaborate with other elected members, without compromising values and principles. There is no benefit for the community in being represented by people who position themselves as the (political)opposition to the other councillors, and who are unwilling to try to find common ground. Local Council is collaborative governance, as one needs the support of other councillors to get enough votes.

Good councillors will be able to conduct respectful discussions with the other elected members and  staff, and will strongly express their values, opinion, ideas and policies. That requires diplomacy, subtlety, and willingness to compromise, to get at least half the number of councillors to vote for what one suggests, and to get the best possible outcomes for our city. 

That might mean, many small adjustments, putting motions up, or changes to the initial plans, and letting go of stubborn egos. It is a basic fact  that a councillor on one’s own will achieve next to nothing, and that one needs the support of other councillors to see one’s ideas voted for and come to fruition.

Being a regressive and negative force on council is counter-productive, unintelligent, a waste of time, and must be very frustrating. It is not fair either to the community and voters, who are expecting good future-focused representation, not backward-looking negativity.

It requires finesse, tact, good people skills, and doing one’s ‘homework’ extensively, to be a successful and effective councillor. So, will we see new faces on Fremantle Council after the October election, or will sitting members return for another four years? Who will renominate and who will move on? 

Councillor Rachel Pemberton indicated last year that she did not want another term, so that means the new coastal ward, created out of combining City Ward with South Fremantle Ward, will probably get a new councillor. 

In North Fremantle Cr Bryn Jones’ seat is up for election, in Hilton it is Deputy Mayor Frank Mofflin, in East Ward Cr Su Groome, in Beaconsfield Cr Geoff Graham, and in South Ward Cr Marija Vujcic. Whom of them will renominate and try to get another four years, and who will step down? Will the voters want them back, or is there dissatisfaction with some of them?

It will be an interesting election, for a reduced council, that will hopefully see some new faces. New councillors who want to help improve our city and make it into an even better place to live, work and visit. Ideally the new council will be one that better represents all voters in Fremantle, because even the vocal minority deserves good representation.

Fremantle needs creative people on council, with a vision and new ideas, people who’ll have the right priorities, and who don’t run off with the fairies, when there is no substance to their ideas.

May the best (wo)men win!

Roel Loopers

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