Peart runs again: Focus on bike paths, school networks and policy detail

13.812NEWS

• James Peart with his campaign bike, with son Ludo and partner Rebecca Mackay. Photo by Jeremy Dixon

JAMES PEART will have another tilt at the Vincent council by-election, after narrowly missing out in October’s eight-way race.

A south ward vacancy was created when Cr John Carey was elected mayor.

The nearest two contenders were former Labor adviser Katrina Montaut with 907 votes and Mr Peart with 828.

Mr Peart, who’d coordinated volunteers in Vincent’s efforts to get fully merged with Perth, says he wants to run again because he had a great time working with the council on the campaign.

“It was a really positive experience, everyone working towards a common goal: The councillors, staff, and volunteers,” he says, having become a regular sight around town on his campaign banner-laden bike.

The urban planner says one key priority is to make sure Vincent’s new bike plan works for pedestrians too. He says there are some easy fixes that can be made while putting in the paths to make sure pedestrians have an easier time getting around.

He also wants to set up a schools network which would work like “a super P&C” so schools can meet regularly with council to discuss issues like parking and traffic management.

Mr Peart says a greening plan to plant more trees around town has to be followed with an eye to detail, so that walking to town centres doesn’t involve a sweltering march through sun-baked terrain (an oft-heard criticism of Beaufort Street).

He says a detail-oriented councillor is important as he’s heard criticisms from locals that sometimes elected members don’t understand the intricacies of policy.

“One of the things I’m keen on is being there in the council meetings to say: ‘Does everyone understand the policies?

“I’ve seen it in council meetings that people haven’t got their heads around it.

“From my experience—and this was a few years ago—but there was a clear lack of understanding of the heights policy for Oxford Street.”

Mr Peart says when staff recommend items for approval that are contrary to regular policy, there should be detailed explanation of why.

He is not a member of any political party but says he can get along with everyone, from the Labor-aligned mayor to the local state Liberal MP.

“Last week I had a beer with John Carey, this week I had a coffee with Eleni Evangel,” he says.

Mr Carey has endorsed Mr Peart for council.

“I think he’s an outstanding candidate and this is based on a number of reasons: Firstly he brings experience and expertise as an urban planner so he’s going to hit the ground running. He’s not going to need to learn the ropes, he has that experience, and given that many of the issues we’re facing regarding density, zoning and the new town planning scheme, I think he’s a great choice.

“Secondly if you look at all the candidates that ran at the last election, he was the standout in terms of his commitment and energy for the ‘Vincent all-in, one-in’ campaign.”

Mr Carey says in other parts of the country mayors will back candidates of their own party, but “that’s not the case for me: James is independent”.

He says his endorsement is based on Mr Peart’s “energy and experience” and adds “I don’t have any expectations or promises about how [Mr Peart] is going to vote”.

by DAVID BELL

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