NOT sure who to vote for? We put the tough questions to all candidates to help you make up your mind - read on for their answers.
All candidates have been sent the same questionnaire. We will post their answers as we receive them - check back here regularly for updates.
Candidates have been given until October 6 to submit their responses. The Weekly has chosen not to edit the responses in any way, except for legal reasons, meaning what you see is exactly what you get.
Candidates were advised to write N/A for questions they wished not to answer. The Weekly has indicated where no contact details were provided or where candidates declined to take part.
Taking in Olinda, Monbulk, Macclesfield, Silvan, Wandin North, Wandin East, Seville and Seville East, Chandler Ward is one of the largest in Yarra Ranges. A vacancy has been left by mayor Graham Warren, who has decided not to run again, leaving the race wide open.
At the 2008 election:
Registered voters: 10,871
Voter turnout: 8437 (77.61 per cent of total enrolment)
Formal votes: 8197
Informal votes: 240
Candidates (in ballot order)
Suburb of residence: Monbulk
Occupation: Retired newspaper editor/owner, factory manager, youth worker, desktop publisher
How long have you lived in Yarra Ranges? I have lived in Monbulk for some 12 years.
Have you run for council/ been a councillor before, or any other level of government? If so, please list details (where, when, length of time, etc). I was a councillor in the rural shire of Yackandandah for seven years, in which time I was elected by preference first time and by absolute, and overwhelming majority on two other occasions. It was a great apprenticeship, so I come to this as a full-on tradesman council candidate. I thought that was all in the past but the ridiculousness of the rates and the cavalier attitude of the shire officials prompted me to run.
Are you/have you been a member of a political party? If yes, which party? If no, with which party do you most identify? No affiliations or membership in any political party. I firmly and fiercely believe that council is absolutely no place for any member of any political party or pressure group as they are not able to always make decisions in the best interests of the residents who elected them. I think it must be in the “Becoming an MP for Dummies” book that putting in a self-serving period in council is a necessary step. Does little for our local issues.
Are you or have you ever been a member of a political interest or lobby group? No to the political party as for the lobby group, well that’s hard to say. Last month, as a private citizen ratepayer, I organised a meeting in Monbulk to query the outrageous increases in some people’s valuations. It was attended by 200 very angry people and four very evasive rating bigwigs. Is that a lobby group in action?
If you are elected, will you commit to remaining a councillor for the whole term? Yes. Barring of course, life’s little surprises. I’ll also do what I did before and have “The Councillor is in” informal street meetings on Saturday mornings.
What is your campaign budget? Who is funding your campaign? $1000-$1500 absolute maximum. Totally self-funded.
Who will you direct your preferences to? I will leave them unaligned. Both my opponents have good points and no doubt espouse some things that I do. It will be a fairly loose arrangement I suspect. I note that they have swapped preferences apparently.
Describe your involvement in the local community. Currently I am part of the two-person Home Bushfire Advisory Service (HBAS) newly instigated by the CFA. Part of Monbulk Fire Brigade’s aim is to have every new resident in our district visited and advised on household bushfire safety within three months of moving in. We reckon we’ll visit more than half the houses in our district within four years. That’s about 200 hours each operator each year.
For the last 12 years I have been a very frequent turnout firefighter with the CFA with more than 500 turnouts to emergencies. Some time ago I was a councillor in a rural shire and the carer/responsible parent for a total of 300 homeless teenagers over the same period. Very Busy!
What do you think being a councillor involves? I know from experience, not think! Time, time, time, listening, listening, listening and patience are absolute necessities. Councillors need to have an ability to treat each issue on its merits based on the information given, and the information you can seek out yourself, including a ‘boots on the ground’ look at the situation. A councillor has to be a grassroots interpreter and communicator of the Shire’s intent, often couched in officialese, to the residents. Likewise the councillor has to get the residents wishes through to rule-bound officials. Did I mention Time?
What do you think are the most important issues for your ward? The same as the whole shire. There seems to be two great issues both to do with rates. One issue is how the shire raises the rate income, based on the crazy valuations this year, the other is how we spend the money we raise. While we run around with Toolangi and Swinburne at Lilydale both important, our shire is on a 500+ employee, 160 million dollar blowout. And we are rapidly ageing which changes emphasis. In the ward specifically the issue is the balance between horticultural and residential land values and a whole heap of nuts and bolts issues, Public transport and high shop rents, are hard to fix by Council The constant reorganising of the built environment and regulations can be fixed.
What do you think are the most important issues facing Yarra Ranges? There is a grey tsunami coming. It’s the retiree baby boomers being rated out of their homes. And the rapidly ageing staff reaching for their super. The Shire has sort of lost the plot. Councillors have a massive, complicated work load on very many subjects and the data they get is very complex and written (purposely I think) in bureaucratese designed to confuse. The recent rates debacle is a case in point of confusion. If 200 ordinary people take the trouble to turn out and point out a blatant inconsistency, how come no one noticed it at officer or councillor level?
Where do you stand on the logging currently taking place in Toolangi? Should it be stopped or does it have a rightful place to continue? Apart from the general news coverage I have little knowledge of the issues at the moment. But, each time it comes to the council table I’ll be the best researched, least pressure group directed person at the table and will let that research assist my vote. As far as I can see from afar, it’s a discussion or confrontation between two diametrically opposed groups taking place on land mostly not overseen by the shire. Obviously I need more work here.
Is enough being done to secure higher education in the shire once Swinburne’s Lilydale campus closes? Wrong question. It should be how we prevent its closing and redesign its courses to be relevant. If this isn’t in the shire’s bailiwick it ought to be, and as the shire are the redevelopment permit body (until we are over-ruled by Spring street) we ought to make it clear that we will do all in our power to retain a tertiary/trade education facility in the shire.
Should the urban growth boundary be extended further in the Yarra Ranges? What sort of development would you allow? No. Melbourne is already one of the world’s most widespread cities, which makes the provision of public services: roads, drains, sewers, power and transport more expensive. Let’s fill in the inner suburban gaps appropriately first. Then we can better build public transport. Greenfield sites are often more expensive to develop, out of town high density enclaves can become either ghettoes or a drain on the engineering maintenace purse. Let’s think about it.
Yarra Ranges Council is looking at a $15 million bill to top up the local government super fund. Is a rate rise justified to pay this unexpected fee? That’s $12.1m by the way and there is a pay over 15 years option. Not so much justified as unavoidable perhaps. It’s all the fault of the parents of the multitude of baby boomers now approaching retirement. In the bad old days before the 9% super levy, local government, entered agreements with their employees that involved a pension for life arrangement. Most councils put aside money to earn interest to fund these pensions. Whoops, the money put aside shrank due to lesser investment returns and the baby boomer bubble is bigger than anticipated. Its very complex and there may be no legal way to avoid part of the payment being sourced from the rates. But I’ll look for one.
Jason Callanan: No contact details provided
Suburb of residence: Seville
Ward nominated for: Chandler
How long have you lived in Yarra Ranges? 7 years
Have you run for council/ been a councillor before, or any other level of government? If so, please list details (where, when, length of time, etc). No
Are you/have you been a member of a political party? If yes, which party? If no, with which party do you most identify? No – I indentify with independents
Are you or have you ever been a member of a political interest or lobby group? No
If you are elected, will you commit to remaining a councillor for the whole term? Yes absolutely
What is your campaign budget? Who is funding your campaign? My husband Graeme and I are running a totally self funded campaign.
Who will you direct your preferences to? Jason Callanan
Describe your involvement in the local community. I have been actively involved in Seville Pre School, Primary School and Township Groups. As a driving force behind the establishment and continuation of the Celebrating Seville Festival, I have worked closely with a large number of businesses, community groups and sporting clubs to deliver this successful event. Working closely to support the CFA is always a high priority for me.
I am also currently studying for a degree in Community Development as my interest and desire is to work with the community.
What do you think being a councillor involves? Being a councillor involves a large amount of time, energy and commitment to a range of activities and issues. An individual councillor has no power of their own; it is the council as a whole that has the power. Working well as a member of a team is important with good skills of communication.
What do you think are the most important issues for your ward? We have a diverse mix of small business, farming and urban life, and there is always more than one issue at the top of residents’ lists. As I talk to a range of residents I’ve discovered what is important to them. Whether it’s an issue of roads, rates or rubbish, or any one of the multitude of services that council provide, if it’s important to you then it’s important to me. Having a councillor who can advocate for residents on a broad range of issues is vital. Clear, two-way communication between the Shire and residents is paramount.
What do you think are the most important issues facing Yarra Ranges? There are numerous issues facing the whole shire. Ensuring the access to tertiary education on the Swinburne site in Lilydale is vital. There is concern about rates, but I have discovered a greater concern about the consistency in property valuation. As rates provide the Shire with approximately 75% of their income, the wise allocation of these funds is vital.
Where do you stand on the logging currently taking place in Toolangi? Should it be stopped or does it have a rightful place to continue? This is not an issue that affects the ward of Chandler
Is enough being done to try secure higher education in the shire once Swinburne’s Lilydale campus closes? This is an extremely important issue and every effort must be made to find an alternative higher education organisation to come here and take Swinburne’s place. My commitment to education sees me passionately interested in retaining the Yarra Valley Education Precinct in Lilydale and continuing the fantastic work initiated by the current council to secure a future provider. This work MUST continue.
Should the urban growth boundary be extended further in the Yarra Ranges? What sort of development would you allow? I would be reluctant to extend the boundary as I doubt that it could be done without destroying much of what we have that is so important. Increasing the density of housing around towns to allow for residents to “age in place”, for example is vital.
Yarra Ranges Council is looking at a $15 million bill to top up the local government super fund. Is a rate rise justified to pay this unexpected fee? This unexpected fee is appalling. Neither Federal nor State governments are required to maintain a fully funded super fund and demanding this of the Shire of Yarra Ranges needs to be addressed.