Local government elections are on again in October. One thing worth remarking on is that, out of the fifteen candidates, seven are women.
I would like to be able to find out more about what’s really going on.
According to Steve Grant in the Herald (14 Sept), the Mayor has a ‘team’. He writes that Michelle Cunningham ‘had an unsuccessful and bruising run against mayor Brad Pettit’s team a couple of years back’ – which implies that Jenny Archibald is a member of the mayor’s ‘team’, as it was she who thrashed Ms Cunningham in 2017. Steve also suggests that Rachel Pemberton is a Pettitt supporter.
Roger Garwood in his blog (17 July) tells us that the mayor has a ‘campaign manager’, Brian Smith, who ‘is said to have an influence among councillors and council’s administrators’. He also claims that the mayor has ‘advisers’ [sic] including Chris Lewis, and Professor Peter Newman.
It is also said that certain individuals have some influence as to who stands and whom gets elected: people like former mayor Peter Tagliaferri, and former premier Peter Dowding, who lives in South Fremantle. I would expect the publisher of the Herald, Andrew Smith, to be influential in local affairs, as that’s what the owners of newspapers have always done.
Some candidates have worked for political parties in the past: Lynn McLaren was a Greens Member of the Legislative Council.; Frank Mofflin worked in Willagee for the Labor Party; and Rachel Pemberton worked in Senator Scott Ludlum’s (Greens) office. There are likely to be others that I don’t know of.
Roel Loopers, on the other hand, often writes that councillors actually act independently, rather than along party lines, in what they personally see as the City’s best interests.
A few councillors have been in situ for so long it seems as if it’s simply their day job, and whatever allegiances they had (or still have) outside the job matter less than it does with others. Doug Thompson (not a candidate this term) is the outstanding example, but Jon Strachan is looking like a professional councillor, and Geoff Graham is attempting to return to his old job, having been on council for six years previously.
I don’t think it’s irrelevant that councillors now get paid a comfortable salary, so it has become a career choice. A hundred years ago, councillors were not paid – they didn’t need to be, as they were wealthy men, and acted out of a sense of responsibility to the community that had generated that wealth, and with the intention that this state of affairs should continue.
To return, finally, to the mayor’s ‘team’: if there’s one of ‘his’ candidates in each ward, I’m assuming that they include: Gemma Hohnen, who used to work in the same office as the mother of Brad Pettitt’s daughter; Rachel Pemberton (fellow greenie); Su Groome, architect; Lynn McLaren (another fellow greenie); and then I don’t know about North and South, but would have to guess that the old hands, Bryn Jones and Jon Strachan, get on OK with Brad. I can’t see him wanting Marija Vujcic.
I hope to return to this topic before the election in a month, if I can find out anything more enlightening.