So far, the mayoral campaign ‘brevity’ award goes to Hemp Party member and independent Jack Sugarman, even if some of his policy statements are completely at odds with most constituents. You have to admire the uncompromising underdogs.
But all six contenders have contributed spirited and worthy debate to what is surely the hardest gig in town. No-one has jumped ahead of the pack, to The Echo’s knowledge. Thankfully there’s still more time.
Any message communicated through writing is best served stripped of rhetoric, pandering and pap. It wins debates hands down every time. Trimmed and lean language is vital to democracy and many politicians lack this ability. Bridging the gap between what is often bland bureaucracy and how it affects us is a study in itself.
In addition, negativity towards opponents is a predictable and pointless exercise that only serves the lowest common denominator.
Unfortunately it works in most cases with an uninformed public, but thankfully that has not been a feature of debate so far.
With only weeks to go to the election, The Echo will look closer at the dynamic between councillors and council’s staff, its operating budget and what is possible within our constitutional rights.
Another renegade mayoral candidate, Morgan, assumes reasonable knowledge of constitutional law; however, it can only be described as ‘untested’ at a local level. Still, the theatre of politics is usually limited to tit-for-tat, so any deeper understanding of
our constitution is a welcome relief, especially in light of local government (council) not being recognised constitutionally.
This Shire sets precedents for many other councils across the continent, and that means leadership and vision, which also means being informed and transparent. But the tendering process – for example – is unacceptable in The Echo’s view, in regards to both the long-suffering Byron markets policy and more recently the surf schools. Clarity is yet to be provided by Council on this and on its public/media gag orders, which go against NSW state guidelines.
Even local government MP Don Page’s media advisor is on record as saying (in a convoluted way): ‘Nothing under the Local Government Act or Regulation would prevent a council from putting in place restrictions of the type contained in the Byron [tender] policy.’
Those seeking further information on any candidate or mayoral hopeful can visit The Echo’s online profiles at www.echonetdaily. net.au. Click on the ‘Elections 2012’ tab and then ‘Byron Shire special coverage’. It’s the most comprehensive election coverage of the region ever attempted – Ballina, Byron, Lismore and Tweed are all included. But if mayoral hopeful Jack Sugarman gets his way, it will all b e ‘ carved up ’.
This week’s online mayoral hopeful Q&A can be found at www. echo.net.au/opinion-piece/mayoral-hopefuls-qa. It’s entirely in their own words and is unedited for length. It provides the public with a great way of determining substance over waffle.