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EDITORIAL: Candidate call for council elections

Council elections are in October – but now is the time to do some research for those interested in putting their hand up as a candidate to be a councillor.

Although having never been a councillor myself, I have sat in more council meetings than most in my time as a journalist covering local government.

Having worked in various regional areas of Victoria, I have reported on numerous councils over the years and have seen all types of councillors in my time.

While councils often get the blame for everything – even for matters that are not their responsibility – and the job can be relentless, it can also be rewarding and provide great fulfilment.

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But knowing what you are getting yourself in for is advised.

It’s not just about attending a monthly public meeting – there is so much work behind the scenes. The reading alone required in preparation for meetings takes hours.

And it is pretty evident at council meetings who has done their research and background reading.

An effective and informed councillor needs to be available and willing to put in the hard work behind the scenes. 

There are also several other meetings requiring councillor attendance – whether that be with community clubs or organisations, being a council representative on a committee or attending official functions.

The best type of councillors put personal and political agendas aside, and make decisions for the betterment of the community.

While councillors are paid a remuneration, it probably doesn’t cover the amount of hours required to be a good councillor. 

In many ways, being a councillor is the ultimate level of volunteerism. 

It is certainly not a role for everyone – candidates need to have the experience, skills and the time to dedicate to the role to represent their communities successfully.

Each community needs quality people to stand as a candidate and represent them as a councillor – the role that councils play in making towns and regional cities better places is immense. 

Driving community programs and infrastructure, advocating to higher levels of government, all while delivering the services required across the municipality is vital to creating a thriving place to live, work and visit.

If giving the ultimate contribution to your community sounds appealing, attending an information session and having a chat with councillors already in the job is advisable.

The Victorian Local Government Association is hosting online sessions in May, one especially for women, and the Municipal Association of Victoria will host an in-person session in Nhill on August 14.

The sessions will cover how councils work, councillors’ responsibilities and key issues to consider when standing for council.

The entire May 8, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!