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SSC Newspaper : October 2010
By Bernadette Chua Strath eld Council is in danger of catching the contagion sweeping through larger political bodies from the Federal Government in Canberra to major European powers like Britain and Holland -- electorates which fail to provide a clear result. e by-election created by the resignation of former councillor Danny Lim could produce a result which will make it more challenging for council to push through the major plans for the municipality, including the multi-million dollar Town Square project. Newly elected mayor Tony Maroun has already made a plea for unity and asked councillors to put the interests of Strath eld rst. By-election candidates include two Independents -- Louis Bechara and Anna Edwards -- Labor candidate John Krebs and Liberal candidate Helen McLucas. e present council is comprised of two Liberals, three Labor and one Independent. Councillor Maroun is a Liberal Party member, and his deputy Hope Bre -Bowen is a member of the Labor Party. A win for an Independent would mean, in a situation with echoes to the recent federal election, that both parties would be courting the incoming councillor. Neither Independent candidate has indicated how they will lean if elected -- making the result even more nail biting. But they did say they would be working towards a more e cient council and a "positive outcome for the area". A recent sur vey by the Scene shows the main issues concerning the candidates are parking and ratepayer value for money. Paul Barron, an Independent councillor, has said in previous interviews how important he feels Independents are to the political process, but that the upcoming by-election didn't give Independents enough time to win over the electorate. "Independents have changed the political climate in Canberra. Who knows what Independents might do in Strath eld?" he added. Labor received 34.8 per cent of the poll in the last local government election two years ago, but since then the poor showing of the State government in sur veys may have impacted the party's standing. e Liberals received 30 per cent of the vote in 2008. e by-election is set for October 23. Postal and pre-poll voting will be available. Voting is compulsory for everyone on the residential roll. Former Cr Lim resigned in June, halfway through his four year term. e council failed in a bid to postpone the by-election until the next full council elections on the grounds that it was not necessary and would cost ratepayers up to $90,000. Turn out will be an important factor in this poll, which occurs one day before the Strath eld Spring Fair, Council's biggest event of the year. While candidates are gearing up to get their messages across -- mostly on local issues like roads and planning -- they have a limited time to raise public awareness and woo voters. Many expect, as the high stakes become apparent for the council, that candidates from the major parties will be taking to a very traditional political communication tool rather than the social media weapons such as Twi er and Facebook -- the humble door knocker. Independence day or gridlock? HOW THE CANDIDATES LINE UP Strathfield Scene 13 Neither Independent candidate has yet to indicate how they would vote on council if elected – making the election even more nail biting. THE BIG ISSUE www.ourstrathfield.com Anna Edwards, 57 Independent. Retired business owner Independent candidate Anna Edwards pledges to focus on bread and bu er issues if elected to council. "It's time to go back to basics and look at the issues which concern residents on a day-to-day basis, such as be er maintaining our streets, nature strips and improving Strath eld's clean up ser vices," she says. Bicycles and solar power are also high on her agenda: "We need more bicycle racks at our railway stations and the bene t of solar power on all council buildings needs to be explored." Louis Bechara, 49 Independent. Accountant. Born and bred in Strath eld, this Independent candidate is a family man with strong community values. Bechara, an accountant, is also a volunteer with several local sports associations and the proprietor of an inner-west accounting practice. "I believe in maintaining the integrity and stability of Strath eld with a good sound nancial knowledge, bringing added nancial strength and success in the future," he says. "I work well with others in a commi ee environment and I'm a team player." John Krebs, 39 Labor. IT Manager Labor candidate and family man John Krebs, a Strath eld local, is pu ing his focus on the importance of providing good local facilities. " e former South Strath eld Bowling Club must be developed as a facility that meets community needs, " he says. "In the last council elections, I fought for the continued existence of the South Strath eld [High Street] Branch Library and will continue that stand." Maintaining a clean and tidy environment, li er reduction and e cient garbage collection are also priorities for Krebs if he is to be elected. Helen McLucas, 53 Liberal. Justice of the Peace Liberal candidate and mother of three Helen McLucas believes that together we can make a big di erence with creative and innovative solutions to local issues. "I am a strong believer in the Town Centre Master Plan, feeling it will be bring local residents, families and friends together as a community," she says. "[But] tra c and parking issues also need some fresh solutions as does maintaining the environment via further recycling and re-using initiatives. I'm also an advocate for mental health and disability issues." Polling Day: October 23, 8am-6pm Electorate: 19,635 voters Fine for not Voting: $55 Polling Booths: See page six RESULTS 2008 Labor: 34.8% Liberal: 30% Independents: 29.4% Unity party: 5.8% ELECTION AT A GLANCE Newspix