Ipswich City Council today launches an Election 101 guide which includes everything you need to know about becoming a councillor or mayor.
Ipswich, It’s Your Council: A Candidate Guide for Ipswich City Council is directly aimed at people considering putting their name forward for the March 2020 local government elections.
The 50-page guide has been prepared by Interim Administrator Greg Chemello and can be found here.
“The Candidate Guide is intended to help potential candidates to better understand the city of Ipswich and Ipswich City Council, the role and purpose of local government, what is expected of a councillor and mayor, and what support your council’s management team and staff will provide to enable and empower incoming councillors to succeed for the Ipswich communities,” he said.
“For potential candidates, it is a starting point to help you decide whether or not the position of local councillor or mayor is for you. If you have already decided to nominate, hopefully this guide will be a useful tool to ensure that you’re as informed as possible throughout your forthcoming campaign.”
Saturday marked 20 weeks until the 28 March poll. So far only nine people have nominated to become a councillor for the four new divisions (two councillors in each) and four people for the mayoralty.
Mr Chemello said that, after the dismissal of the previous councillors last year, the election will be “an unprecedented opportunity for Ipswich to start over with a refreshed, passionate and committed executive team, a loyal workforce and (after more than 18 months of major reforms under administration) an open, transparent and leading-practice council”.
He said the guide is an overview of everything a candidate should know before committing to run for council and will also be of interest to many residents and ratepayers.
“Whether you’ve decided to run, you’re contemplating running, or you want to better understand the role of council and elected representatives so you can make a fully-informed decision at the ballot box on 28 March 2020, I hope this document will assist.
“If you’re still undecided, this guide will help you to make a decision either way. If you’ve already decided to stand, you owe it to yourself and to your potential constituents to be as informed and aware as possible throughout your campaign.”
Mr Chemello said the guide contained a checklist – including such items as personal motivation and attributes, the role of a councillor (and mayor), council knowledge, and your campaign/the logistics of running – which every potential councillor should tick off and would also be a useful tool for voters.
“It is a prompt for questions to ask candidates to ensure that they have done the research and are truly prepared for the challenges and opportunities ahead,” he said.
“The role of a councillor is exciting, diverse and challenging. Councillors work together to make decisions about what your council will do to meet community needs and how money should be spent in the best interests of the whole community. Councillors help our suburbs, towns and cities grow and prosper now and into the future.
“Every day you will be expected to balance the needs of your local area, your residents, the priorities for the city as a whole, community groups, local businesses and the council. All will make legitimate demands on your time – on top of your personal commitments to family, friends and obligations which may include running a business or balancing another part-time role.”
Mr Chemello said there was no formal position description or selection criteria for the role of councillor or mayor and a successful council would be made up of people with different skills and abilities.
“One of the most challenging aspects of the role is that councillors are required to make decisions that affect people’s lives to varying degrees and some of these decisions will not always be popular with all constituents.
“It’s important that councillors can successfully communicate the council’s vision to their constituents, the need to pursue long-term objectives consistent with this vision, and that sometimes this means some people won’t achieve their short-term ambitions because of the overarching greater good for the community.
“Given the events of the last few years, I believe that Ipswich communities deserve an elected council that boasts strategic and whole-of-city thinking and is grounded by inspiring, transparent and honest leadership.”
Mr Chemello said council will be holding Candidate Information Sessions on Tuesday 26 November 2019 and Tuesday 4 February 2020 at the North Ipswich Reserve Corporate Centre.
“The purpose of these sessions is to provide an opportunity for candidates (confirmed and potential) and interested residents to learn more about the role of a councillor and council’s operations.”
“Guide will be a valuable tool for the community”
Fuad Paul Forghani, a member of council’s Transparent Governance community reference group, said the guide would be beneficial to potential councillors and voters.
“The more education the better,” he said.
“There is still a level of mistrust in the community and providing valuable information like this will help people recognise that the system is working.”
Mr Forghani, who spent 30 years in the construction industry and runs a consultancy business at Springfield Lakes, said the community reference groups have also been a welcome addition.
“People feel like they are being heard, that the community has a voice again,” he said.
He urged more people to come forward and nominate for council.