Bar hitch, it’s Mitch

Elec­tion will be close, but in­cum­bent should tri­umph

Geelong Advertiser - - PERSPECTIVE - Peter MOORE

I don’t think we can af­ford the 12 months or so to bed in a new­bie to the work­ings of coun­cil and the bu­reau­cracy

THE vote is in, the die is cast.

Last week, I wrote about the may­oral can­di­dates: ‘‘ I have de­lib­er­ately re­frained from hav­ing any in-depth con­ver­sa­tions with any of them and have re­lied on what they have said in pub­lic, the news­pa­pers and ra­dio, just like ev­ery­one else who is go­ing to vote.’’

This week I went a step far­ther and at­tended two of the many se­ries of pub­lic de­bates they have par­tic­i­pated in, al­low­ing us all to as­sess their in­di­vid­ual mer­its as they bat­tled head to head.

Nor­mally, I would treat such happenings with a pithy com­ment here, a one liner there, no doubt also adding a fair dose of sar­casm tinged with dis­be­lief, de­spair or even faux out­rage.

But no. Be­cause, be­lieve it or not, they re­ally do de­serve bet­ter.

They de­serve, all of them, to be taken se­ri­ously. They de­serve to be con­grat­u­lated not only for the way they han­dled them­selves and for ac­cept­ing the me­dia scru­tiny but also, on re­flec­tion, for the mere act of putting their hands up at this his­toric time.

The two fo­rums I at­tended on Tues­day were the Gee­long Busi­ness Net­work break­fast at the Mer­cure Ho­tel for two hours, im­me­di­ately fol­lowed by a live-to-air dis­cus­sion with Den­nis Scan­lon on the Pulse Community ra­dio sta­tion for an­other hour and a half.

These were not the po­lit­i­cal speeches that we have be­come ac­cus­tomed to, with point scor­ing and per­sonal at­tacks.

There was not even a hint of per­sonal an­tag­o­nism be­tween them as they qui­etly, but per­sis­tently made their pitches for the top job.

Last week I also made a state­ment with the plea, ‘‘The can­di­dates are still on a learn­ing curve and I’m sure will get past the ‘wouldn’t it be nice’ state­ments and give us some­thing con­crete. Just one thing would be ap­pre­ci­ated."

By and large I didn’t get even the ‘ just one thing’. But I did come away with much bet­ter un­der­stand­ing.

Of the can­di­dates, I think it would be true to say that the win­ner will come from Keith Fagg, John Mitchell, Ber­nadette Uzelac, Stephanie Asher and Ron Watt.

Apolo­gies to Sue Bull ( who couldn’t at­tend ei­ther func­tion), Frank Roz­para and Graeme Robin.

No put- downs, no smart re­marks, just a thank you on be­half of the community for car­ing enough to stand, un­like the rest of us.

Dur­ing both func­tions, I ran a score sheet based on all the usual things such as pre­sen­ta­tion, pub­lic speak­ing, orig­i­nal ideas, con­vic­tion and, quite sim­ply, whether I liked them.

You are prob­a­bly think­ing, what sort of se­lec­tion cri­te­ria is ‘whether I liked them’?

And you would be right. How- ever, I did have pre­con­ceived ideas about some of the elec­tion can­di­dates.

I was con­cerned about Ms Uzelac’s pre­var­i­ca­tion over her mem­ber­ship of the Lib­eral Party. I thought Mr Fagg’s will­ing­ness to do­nate half his salary to char­i­ties was pop­u­lar­ist rub­bish. Ms Asher wants to be a ‘ stay at home’ mayor. And would it be pos­si­ble for Mitch the Mayor to step up for the big chal­lenge?

Hav­ing watched and lis­tened to them, I don’t re­ally care if any of the above is true or is me be­ing para­noid. It’s ir­rel­e­vant.

They are all wor­thy can­di­dates, and in my scor­ing not more than 1 1⁄2 points out of 10 sep­a­rated them.

How­ever, I am paid to write opin­ions and not sit on the fence.

So, for what it’s worth, this is how I see it all work­ing out.

Mr Mitchell to win from Mr Fagg in a close one, with Ms Uzelac a clear third from Ms Asher and Mr Watt.

That is also how I think it should work out, as I think the first of our pop­u­larly elected may­ors needs to hit the ground run­ning.

Gee­long is in a cru­cial stage of de­vel­op­ment and I don’t think we can af­ford the 12 months or so to bed in a new­bie to the work­ings of coun­cil and the bu­reau­cracy.

It would also give the other can­di­dates a chance to be­come more in­volved in the coun­cil through var­i­ous com­mit­tees and do an ap­pren­tice­ship for the next elec­tion in four years.

In the lat­est is­sue of Gen­eral Man­ager mag­a­zine Tony Brun, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the City of Greater Ger­ald­ton, was asked, ‘‘Tony, are there other cities out there you are mod­el­ling your­selves on? Any in par­tic­u­lar you want to em­u­late?’’

His re­ply: ‘‘ There are clearly some lead­ers out there.

‘‘In terms of part­ner­ing and de­vel­op­ing a strong, co­her­ent fu­ture, Gee­long is no doubt a model econ­omy and city.’’

I think I’ll leave it there in case fair­ness and bal­ance take a hold.

PAY DAY: Gee­long mayor John Mitchell stud­ies his notes as he cam­paigns to get his job back. He is flanked by can­di­dates Graeme Robin and Stephanie Asher.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.