THERE’S been a healthy interest in becoming a councillor at Vincent, with four candidates nominating in each ward (two vacancies in each) for the local government elections on October 21.
North Ward (2 vacancies):
JOANNE FOTAKIS has been an active local and chairs the Leederville Connect Activation Committee, helping to deliver the Light Up Leederville Carnival and the Leedy Open Streets weekends in March, and the new Leederville Fringe Festival. She wants town centres that are people friendly and safe for pedestrians and kids, and wants higher quality developments and more community engagement during the development process. She says “I was brought up in the country, and my father was always involved in the community, always doing something, and I grew up watching my parents give back”. She says one of her favourite things about Vincent is “our village feel, our close community. It’s like a country town within an urban area”. She’s been endorsed by current mayor Emma Cole and says “it’s humbling to have people of that calibre, who are already there [on council] endorse you. It’s fantastic, it’s what gives you heart to go ahead”.
RYAN DAWSON says cost of living pressures impacting families is a big issue for him this election: “Local governments shouldn’t add to that stress by unnecessarily increasing fees, or charging above-market interest rates for choosing to pay your rates in instalments”. He’s previously worked for former Liberal MP Dennis Jensen, and Mr Dawson wants Vincent to stick to local government business and not go out on “activist” jaunts like launching the recent “Vincent Loves Love” campaign to support same-sex marriage, or the city’s decision earlier this year to steer their investment money away from the coal sector. “I don’t believe it’s the role of local government to take activist stances. We’ve got pretty clear levels of government in this country. Each one of them has ascribed issues that they must deal with.”
Mr Dawson says “it’s pertinent for [councils] to look at green recycling programs, composting programs for households to take advantage of. That I see a role for, but trying to act like the pseudo-rainbow warrior of local government, it’s outside of the remit.” His grandfather Jim Leahy was a long-time Perth councillor and he says “it gave me a sense of civic duty”.
ALEX CASTLE is long term Mt Hawthorn resident, vice chair of Mt Hawthorn Hub and organiser of the street festival. As part of Mt Hawthorn Hub she’s seen how the “Town Team” model can get residents and business owners working with councils to deliver projects and street improvements. “I’ve seen first hand how together we can get things done. I want to build on this and ensure our council listens to all community concerns.” She currently sits on Vincent’s Children and Young People Advisory Group, and her key issues are improving town centres and parks and getting better facilities for the booming youth population, including the older kids who’ve outgrown the playgrounds. She’s also got the endorsement of current mayor Emma Cole.
AARON OLSZEWSKI has a masters in politics and is keen on deliberative democracy and setting up a “permanent system of citizen participation in both determining the city’s budget priorities and delivering new and innovative community projects”. He says it’ll improve local democracy, give better negotiating power with the state government and allow for a more coordinated approach to addressing big issues. He says people could vote on how to use a “small but dedicated percentage of the city’s budget” every one or two years. His hope is that this system would also increase voter participation. “It is simply not good enough that hardly one in four of us typically vote in local government elections. For as long as this low participation rate remains, local government will always be perceived as a subsidiary—as subordinate—to state government, despite having greater democratic legitimacy.”
South Ward (2 vacancies):
MAI NGUYEN is back after a failed election bid at Vincent council’s by-election in February. She grew up in Saigon and came here as a refugee and has a background in small business, so she wants to help them and sort out the tangle of bureaucracy that can keep them back. She’s worked on community projects as part of the Vietnamese Community Association, where she helped organise the Wade Street monument of gratitude, marking the appreciation Vietnamese boat people had for WA for accepting them. It was during that work that she came across then-mayor Alannah MacTiernan, and even though Ms Nguyen’s not a member of any political party she did get Ms MacTiernan’s seal of approval at the last election.
JOSHUA O’KEEFE worked as a planner at Vincent council, and even had a stint as acting planning director. He left earlier this year to pursue his studies and he’s just a couple of weeks away from finishing his degree in primary school teaching. The affable Mr O’Keefe said he had a great time as a council staffer working on character retention areas and updating Vincent’s ageing planning policy, and if he gets elected he’d be an advocate for “vibrant town centres, a more sophisticated approach to carparking and will work with our local government neighbours to address ongoing traffic issues”.
JONATHAN HALLETT has been on council just seven months (he won the February by-election), but he’s been busy in that short time. In June he got up a successful notice of motion to look into whether there was an issue with the gender pay gap among city of Vincent staff, and he also recently proposed the council look into banning single-use plastic like cups, balloons and straws in its domain. (building on a previous motion in May by mayor Emma Cole to investigate banning single-use plastic bags, but the state government’s since stepped in and declared they’ll be banned by July next year).
JOSH TOPELBERG is hoping for a third term after a strong record as an independent on council, and was part of the lineup that led to a lot of changes from the days of Nick Catania’s rule. His family’s lived in the area for over a century now, and he’s the reason Vincent has a men’s shed and he’s brought a sensible local eye to the Development Assessment Panel, where he represents council on big planning decisions.
IT’S a massive cast of nominees for the local government elections at Perth council—double the number at the last election—with 16 candidates vying for four spots.
STEVE HASLUCK is a long time city resident and commercial property manager, and wants to make Perth a place that’s “more liveable, safer, and easier to do business”. In a rarely seen measure he’s used part of the 150-word candidate’s statement to ask voters “to consider supporting Reece Harley” too.
TERRY MALLER promises three things: to vote on each proposal on merit with community consultation, to be a full time councillor available at council house each week day, and while he’s a long time supporter of Lisa Scaffidi he says he will be politically independent if elected. A founder and former director of affordable housing not-for-profit Foundation Housing, he says “social issues such as homelessness and begging are not receiving the support needed from the state government agencies and policing”.
DHAN SHRESTHA has a long history in civil engineering having worked around the world, including three years in the local government realm. He wants “a more accountable and transparent council that works with state and federal governments to make Perth a truly great city” and says he wants to restore “ratepayers’ faith in the council’s ability to deliver good outcomes and get on with the job of governing”.
KEITH YONG is a sitting councillor hoping for a second term. First elected in 2013, he says that as “a multicultural candidate and lawyer, I represent community diversity. Our capital city is a far better place for the diversity it offers”. Running alongside fellow Lisa Scaffidi-supporter Judy McEvoy, he says the city’s recent audit means Perth council is leading local government in compliance and now it can focus on economic development to strengthen the city.
JUDY MCEVOY is a Perth council institution having been an outspoken voice since being elected in 1997, making her the longest-serving councillor. A former publican who would later work for Julie Bishop, she’s backed lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi through recent tough times. She says “the city’s focus must be on cultural, tourism and investment attraction with strong support for business”.
XIAO LIANG is 35 years old and was born in Guangdong province in China. He has an economics degree, worked in Shanghai, and currently works as general manager at Hotel Northbridge.
JAMES LIMNIOS—currently acting mayor while Lisa Scaffidi stands down from her duties—wants periods of free parking, but hasn’t been able to get it past the Scaffidi-majority council. He’s keen on getting the CAT bus running after hours, reducing red tape and he wants a greater police and ranger presence. He’s supporting fellow candidates Xiao Liang, Lexi Barton and Natasha Tang.
DIANNE BAIN was an ABC journo who worked on AM, PM, The World Today and Lateline, presented on ABC News 24, and now runs her own marketing business. Current councillor Reece Harley gave her the informal thumbs up when she announced she was running, saying she would “make a great contribution to the city if elected”.
MICHAEL FELIX wants a more accountable and transparent council, saying “with Perth experiencing the toughest times in decades, the council needs focus on being accountable to the people it represents, businesses and the greater community of Perth”.
LEXI BARTON is a younger candidate with bachelors of Laws and of Science, and says while “there is a lot that can be done within the CBD, I also want to look at how the council can help surrounding suburbs,” as there’s been a bit of a sentiment lately that East and West Perth have gone unheard, and she backs the plan for a free parking period.
SCOTT O’KEEFFE says “I will find a resolution to Perth’s homeless and drug problem, making the streets safer”. He wants to fix Perth’s growing retail and office vacancy rate, “starting with parking incentives around the retail area of East Perth and other key places”.
YUE XIU (LYNETTE) WEN is a lawyer and notary public working in the city and is president of “All For Charity” which helps the needy and disabled. She says “my aim is to transform Perth into a vibrant and sustainable global city and to improve services for residents and businesses”.
REECE HARLEY has had an active four years on council, sometimes being the sole voice speaking in favour of protecting heritage buildings like the Michelides Tobacco Factory, which the rest of the council approved to be demolished. He’s tried to get up measures that’d slash the pricey application fees for restauranteurs wanting to set up alfresco dining but the move was stymied by the Scaffidi-friendly majority on council. He’s also used part of his candidate statement to encourage people to vote for Steve Hasluck.
MICHAEL SUTHERLAND is a former deputy mayor back for another tilt, having already riled a few people with his views on “cleaning up” the city and giving beggars and vagrants the heave ho. He was the Liberal MP for Mount Lawley for two terms.
ANTHONY OLIVIERI has worked as a primary school teacher, small business owner and now works in the health sector and says “problem solving, communication and service are my strengths”.
NATASHA TANG says she nominated because “over the past two years, I have become disheartened by the controversy and disharmony within the council. It is due to lack of proper governance…”
by DAVID BELL