THIS month's Maroondah Council election looks certain to be a close race — and for some, it may come down to family ties.
Candidate nominations for the October 27 election closed last Tuesday with a late rush of nominees at the eleventh hour. There will be 39 candidates standing for nine vacancies across Maroondah's three wards — and already questions about running mates and family members are flying thick and fast.
In Arrabri Ward, incumbent councillor Paul Macdonald will run again, as will his cousin Christina Gleeson. Cr Macdonald's wife, Kathy Macdonald, is also running for a seat in Wyreena Ward and could take the spot vacated by current Wyreena councillor — and the couple's son — Michael Macdonald, who has confirmed he will not be running again.
Cr Paul Macdonald said he did not believe there were any issues with potentially having three family members on the one council.
"They are community-minded people, they have been involved in community groups, they are running as independents and they are not aligned with any political parties," he said. "Isn't it their democratic right to put their hand up and run for council?"
Cr Macdonald said that he did not have any running mates in the election but confirmed he had given his preferences to Ms Gleeson and incumbent Arrabri councillor Natalie Thomas.
Ms Gleeson also rejected any suggestion that being related would affect her objectivity on council decisions should she be elected, calling any claim otherwise "offensive".
"Just because we're related doesn't mean I wouldn't vote independently," she said. "I am an independent woman and I just think it's time to give back to the community."
Arrabri Ward will see 10 candidates vie for the three seats. The third incumbent Tony Dib will also run again. It was suggested last week he had a running mate in candidate Robert Hughes.
However, Cr Dib said he "definitely (did) not" have a running mate, and that his only connection to Mr Hughes was that he was a friend of his son's.
Over in Wyreena Ward Mrs Macdonald will vie with 13 other candidates, including sitting councillors Les Willmott and Rob Steane. Cr Steane's sister Jenny McNeal is also in contention — and Cr Steane did not shy away from the fact that she was his running mate.
"Did I want a running mate? No," he said. "Unfortunately you do need to have like-minded people supporting you when you are running because that's the nature of the system of proportional voting. "
In Mullum Ward, Nora Lamont and Ann Fraser will recontest their seats alongside 13 other candidates. The third Mullum Ward councillor, Alex Makin, did not re-nominate.
Election will be by postal vote. Ballot packs are being sent out between October 9 and 11.