The coming election of councillors in Deniliquin may well be the most important election event since Deniliquin was first settled.
This is a defining moment in history when candidates from the rural and urban areas throw their hat into the ring in the hope of being elected.
They should all be congratulated for their sense of community, in the full knowledge that a councillor has a big commitment representing the constituents on a wide range of important issues that affect our town and district.
How good is it having 17 candidates to choose from in the election process? It is a healthy scenario in much the same way as we have options when we purchase a motor car, an appliance, or shop for groceries or other essential commodities in a rural area. Competition is good in any selection process and we have some good candidates to choose from.
I hope we never take for granted the great privilege it is to have the opportunity to vote for those people who are going to represent us in local government. Not everyone exercises this right but it is no good complaining if you have an issue further down the track and are unhappy with the outcome if you don’t use your vote wisely and vote for those who are best equipped to deal with the issues.
More than a few councillors who have stepped up to the plate have served as Mayor on either Deniliquin Council or Conargo Shire and they have a wealth of experience in local government. Other candidates have lengthy service in local government. Some candidates come from the business sector or have a background in agriculture.
They have very varied skill sets that are a great asset when dealing with the huge range of issues that affect council and our community. We need to do our homework, assess what they have done in the past and judge for ourselves if they have the right attributes to make a real contribution. Some councillors have the points on the board, and others are yet to prove their worth.
I cringe when I think that some people may not “study the form” and opt for a donkey vote choosing the first five candidates on the voting form. This is a waste of a vote and does nothing to ensure we get the best candidates for the job. In some overseas countries you get to cast a vote but with corruption at the highest levels in government you may not be making a difference.
Consider for a moment where we want the town to be in 5-10 years. We need strong leadership, financial accountability, sound decision making on the big ticket projects that value add to our town and make it a place where industry and the agricultural sector can grow, and importantly we want transparency.
There is also the huge job of moulding the former Deniliquin Council staff and the old Conargo Shire staff together who represent two different cultures into one team. There are some very good employees in both groups who give their best every day they go to work, and they take ownership of projects they are responsible for.
We need the new councillors to form a close liaison with their senior staff and consult with the community to drive the projects that improve our town and make it a special place to visit.
I hope everyone who votes, considers the portfolios of the candidates closely, and uses this opportunity to fill the positions on council with the people who can serve us best.