Re­tir­ing coun­cil­lor urges poll re­form

Guardian Express - - NEWS - Kate Leaver

LONG-SERV­ING City of Stir­ling Coastal ward coun­cil­lor Bill Stew­art, who lost his seat in the Oc­to­ber elec­tions, says ma­jor lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­form is needed.

Mr Stew­art had sat on the coun­cil since 1996 and said sev­eral chal­lenges faced the com­mu­nity.

“The plan­ning process and de­vel­op­ment out­comes with the State Gov­ern­ment’s Joint De­vel­op­ment As­sess­ment Pan­els (JDAP) have left res­i­den­tial com­mu­ni­ties iso­lated and with an over­whelm­ing sense of hope­less­ness,” he said.

Mr Stew­art said he be­lieved al­low­ing elec­tors to vote for the mayor, rather than coun­cil­lors, was a bet­ter sys­tem.

“I’ve con­sis­tently cham­pi­oned, pur­sued and pre­sented mo­tions for the mayor to be Bill Stew­art and wife Penny at Water­mans Bay. elected by the peo­ple,” he said.

“I think that’s a far more demo­cratic process.

“If we elected the mayor di­rectly, it would cre­ate more rep­re­sen­ta­tion from the com­mu­nity, as op­posed to rep­re­sen­ta­tion within the coun­cil.”

Mr Stew­art said the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act was in need of re­form to en­sure lo­cal author­i­ties were bet­ter placed to de­ter­mine all se­nior po­si­tions, be­yond that of the chief ex­ec­u­tive.

Mr Stew­art said he ap­pre­ci­ated the op­por­tu­nity to rep­re­sent the com­mu­nity over the past 20 years.

“I ac­knowl­edge the many com­mu­nity vol­un­teers who give count­less hours of sup­port, either through sport­ing clubs, sup­port groups, ratepayer bod­ies and en­vi­ron­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions, as th­ese in­di­vid­u­als make such a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to the com­mu­nity,” he said.

Mr Stew­art said he was proud of the many projects he had worked on, from lo­cal foot­paths to pub­lic in­fras­truc­ture up­grades at Scar­bor­ough Beach.

Mr Stew­art thanked his wife Penny for sup­port­ing him as a coun­cil­lor over the years.

“We both ap­proached pub­lic life as a team with a clear fo­cus on ser­vice, be­ing ac­ces­si­ble and open, sup­port­ing those groups that are gen­uinely com­mit­ted to the com­mu­nity,” he said.

Mr Stew­art said it was too early to say if he would run for coun­cil at the next elec­tion but he would con­tinue his work as a teacher.

Stir­ling Mayor Gio­vanni Italiano thanked Mr Stew­art for his work with the coun­cil over many years.

“I do thank him for all that he’s done for the City of Stir­ling and the com­mu­nity; he’s done a good job,” Cr Italiano said.

Pic­ture: Kate Leaver

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