SEVEN candidates have nominated to run for Mayor in Melville in October’s local government elections, including three who have already worn the chains.
Former mayor Russell Aubrey is hoping for a comeback, saying the city has had a “dramatic fall from grace” since he lost to incumbent George Gear in the last election.
“During the last four years our council has pandered to the demands of a single bowling club and the desires of a small section of the community,” Mr Aubrey wrote in his candidate statement.
“We have seen excessive expenditure in four selected suburbs where eight councillors currently reside.
“During this period much-needed improvements to our other 14 suburbs have been ignored.”
Mr Aubrey warns the “drastically increased rates” will be inevitable into the future because of non-budgeted expenditure.
Current councillor Katy Mair, who held the top job from 1995 – 2007, is also running again, saying she’s got a strong focus on “positive relationships”.
During her first stint as mayor, she was instrumental in saving the Lower Heathcote Land, soon to be transformed into parkland, and says she negotiated construction of club rooms for several Leeming sporting clubs and instigated Kadidjiny Park.
Cr Mair wants to see sports clubs get long, secure leases and upgrades to change rooms to cater for the growing number of women participating in organised sports.
She also supports the proposed bird sanctuary in Alfred Cove and wants to see the foreshore reserve restored.
Current mayor George Gear says he’s proud of his time at the council, saying he’s helped improve “governance, culture and transparency”.
“I have been a proud protector of public open space and have reviewed the disastrous Canning Bridge Activity Plan,” Mr Gear said.
“I thought I would only run for one term, but there is so much more to do.
“We lost so much time and opportunity to Covid, and the culture within the elected member group is still not where it needs to be.”
Mr Gear pointed to the council freezing rates during Covid and offering a $200 rebate to ratepayers, saying the increases have been half the rate of inflation.
He’s also promising to increase the number of playgrounds being renewed and says priority will go towards shaded areas, will prioritise bike paths and nature trails, and will work with the Cook government on traffic issues on Leach and Canning Highways.
Current councillors also wanting to take the role of mayor include Jane Edinger, Clive Ross, and Nicholas Pazolli.
The only new face is teacher Michael McGoldrick, who believes sporting clubs, school committees and churches are the “lifeblood of the City of Melville”.
“Melville’s recreation facilities are in need of immediate enhancements to upgrade our facilities, with a particular emphasis on increasing participation among girls and women in community sports,” Mr McGoldrick said.
Saying that his career had been dedicated to supporting people with disabilities, has said he was well-equipped to advocate for a more inclusive council.
Cr Edinger said during her time on council she had championed the Melville Bird Sanctuary boundaries, advocated to have non-compliant building issues reviewed by the City and improving the City’s website through constructive feedback.
“Another issue that I am focusing on is the low level off green canopy within the City,” Cr Edinger said.
“I intend to bring enthusiasm and a proficient leadership style to the role and would be honoured to be the next mayor of the City of Melville.”
Cr Ross, who has a defamation action against Mr Gear, said he has spent his live representing community interests, culminating in a nomination as Australian of the Year in 2010 for advocating for people caught out by tax changes.
“An elected ward member’s ability to initiate change is limited,” Cr Ross says of his campaign.
“My formal qualifications [as a certified practicing accountant], work and life experience gives me the ability and knowledge to listen and best serve the community.”
Cr Pazolli says among his priorities would be completing current planning scheme reviews for Canning Bridge and Kardinya, and to start new ones for Murdoch, Riseley, Bull Creek and Melville to create “vibrant activity centres that provide community amenity”.
“We are currently experiencing a significant rise in the cost of living that makes it imperative that the operations of the City of Melville are efficient, focussed and affordable to not add to our cost of living burden.
“The the importance of my recent budget motion to reduce the proposed average residential rates increase from 8 per cent to 5 per cent and my continuing focus on constraining rates.”
Cr Karen Wheatland pulled out of the race, saying it was not the time for change.
“The residents and ratepayers need stability – I think George needs to finish what he has started. I’ll continue to be a leader for my community.”