People keen to put their hand up for Council at the two upcoming by-elections can nominate from next week.
The eventual Councillors in the Robinvale and Murray Mallee wards will represent residents in a large part of our municipality, stretching from Robinvale to Vinifera.
For those thinking for nominating, it is important to understand exactly what it is you are putting your hand up for.
Being in just my first term on Council, I can speak from experience and say that becoming a Councillor is both rewarding and challenging.
Councillors have the chance to represent the community on issues that are important to them, and help to make a positive difference to these communities, to really make a change. Personally it can be rewarding too – you learn so much, build new skills and create new networks.
But it is also important for potential candidates to know about the challenges of being a Councillor. Everything we do is regulated by the Local Government Act and under the Councillor Code of Conduct.
We must provide representation for all the communities in our municipality – balancing their diverse needs.
We cannot focus on single issues. Council provides more than 100 services from roads and rubbish, to childcare, aged care and economic development. We must be willing to learn and understand how each of these services is delivered in our community.
And we must manage relationships with community, with Council’s executive, staff and our fellow Councillors.
You must be willing and able to commit time to being a Councillor – as a minimum, attending monthly Council meetings, attending Councillor assemblies and preparing for each of these by reading and working to understand the agendas.
Council CEO John McLinden and I will speak more about this at two Candidate Information Sessions next week – on Monday at the Robinvale Resource Centre at 7pm, and on Tuesday at the Swan Hill Town Hall at 7pm. The VEC will also have a representative there. If you are thinking about standing, these sessions will be useful.
I also encourage potential candidates to speak to current or former Councillors from our municipality, attend a Council meeting if you can, and go online to look at documents like our Council Plan, meeting agendas and the Code of Conduct.