WITH the yard-long ballot papers out and two weeks to go til polls close, we asked the lord mayoral candidates to reflect on the campaign so far, tell us what the voters are saying, or let us know about an issue that hasn’t had the limelight it deserves:
Tim Schwass: As a first time campaigner I have been pleasantly surprised at how polite and supportive people are when I knock on their door.
The online trolls I was warned about and was expecting.
What I was not expecting was the over 1000 abusive and obscene posts on my Facebook as a result of Patrick Gorman responding on his facebook to a headline in the West Australian “Lock up Perth’s homeless” and an accompanying sinister looking photo of me. The article by Josh Zimmerman on 17/09/20 was accurate and fair. The headline was not.
What my website says, the article says and I have said a number of times publicly is that I would be advocating for local laws against camping on the streets of Perth. The article uses the words “rough sleepers” which are not my words but I do not take issue with that. Before the law could be enforced people must be offered acceptable accommodation. The few, if any, that unreasonably refuse assistance would be taken by the police to court where the magistrates would apply restorative justice as they do in the drug court and the mental health court. There has to a way of enforcing any local law. No suggestion of people going to jail for being homeless. The local laws would help those that cannot help themselves but who fall short of the provisions of the Mental Health Act.
The silver lining in this rather dark cloud was the misinformed abuse confirms the ground swell of support for the homeless. Happy to take a bullet for the homeless and my resolve to end homelessness in Perth has only increased.
Mark Gibson: The election of Perth’s lord mayor is unique – a small city council with a few thousand voters, attracting big interest from across the metro area.
For all the grand plans and bold ideas, sometimes the biggest issues are actually the smallest. Like restoring trust and integrity to the council.
The toxic division of the previous council is one of the reasons I decided to run. As a long-term city resident with no links to business or politics and no campaign donors, I believe that I’m well placed to lead a properly functioning council, full of independent voices and free of conflict.
I also believe that my plans for Perth will help bring the city I love back to life.
As well as supporting businesses with faster approvals and encouraging shoppers with free short-term parking, I’m proposing blocking some streets to cars on weekend evenings.
Imagine pedestrians and families taking back the streets, providing free entertainment, improving lighting and therefore safety.
Only a resident truly knows what a city council needs. I will improve amenities and recreational facilities and make life easier for pedestrians, cyclists and scooter users with better footpaths and cycle ways.
After four months on the campaign trail, the consensus is that Perth needs to be cleaner, greener, safer and more vibrant.
It’s hard to argue with that but, if elected, I will ensure that the council’s main focus is always the residents and ratepayers. After all, they pay the rates which fund almost everything we do.
So why did I stand up to be counted – as I watched the election campaign unfold, some seemingly funded by deep pockets, I felt it was shaping up to be a power struggle, with the only options open to voters the “powers that be” to the left or those to the right (metaphoric options, not political leanings).
I believe in balance to an ecology – and in a marine metaphor you do need sharks all the way through to plankton in the water, but too much of either creates problems in balance. I felt that the ordinary people, like you and I, could be the ones left out in the delivery.
So, being a typical West Aussie boy, I felt compelled to step in, to be a voice for the people from all walks of life, who live, work, visit and run businesses in the City of Perth. To be a voice, a proxy for the entire community that makes up our great city.
I see the role of Mayor as an opportunity to keep serving the city and the community that I love. If elected Mayor, while I will commit $50,000 of my annual allowances to set up a youth board, with a pay-it-forward culture and programs that connect the future leaders of our city to the community and the community to us. More than that I have lots of other great wonderful ideas and strategies but first we need to get to work and support those incredible hard-working staff and admin in the council and get all that backlog done with commonsense, energy and efficiency.
I’m not here for a title or the limelight. If I’m not elected Mayor, I have nominated to serve as a councillor. To use the 24 years of multiple business experience and 20 years of community not-for-profit experience to use.
Now, more than ever, we need a steady hand at the wheel for the many challenging times ahead. We need real compassion, teamwork, strategy and above all, we need to show people through action that we care.
Basil Zempilas: How can it be that a modern city with an increasing family population does not have a primary school? We need a primary school in our city and the people of East Perth in particular have told me that’s what they want. Let’s cater for our children’s education needs in our wonderful city environment. I will champion their cause.
The closest primary schools for the growing East Perth (or City of Perth) population is either Highgate Primary School, or Victoria Park Primary School, across the Causeway.
Both of these Primary Schools are not only several kilometres away from East Perth residents, but are not readily and safely accessible for children who might want to walk or cycle to school.
East Perth has a steadily increasing population over the past 20 years and one where many young families are moving to enjoy a vibrant inner-city lifestyle.
If we want to encourage families to move into the inner city and embrace all the amenities that great cities offer, the we need to provide parents with essential services, and there is no more essential service than a primary school.
Historically, East Perth used to have a primary school but that was closed when the nature of the suburb changed and there was a substantial growth in industry in the area (it used to be on Wittenoom Street).
The urban revitalisation of East Perth this century has seen in an influx of families and if we want to keep encouraging families to make the City of Perth their home, then we need a primary school. That’s what families are telling me.
Most candidates are aligned on issues of homelessness, safety and vibrancy. What hasn’t been addressed is their experience.
Electors need to look behind personalities and political catchphrases to the character and substance of candidates – to ensure they choose the right person for Perth’s lord mayor.
Conflicts and favours – disclosed or undisclosed – can’t be tolerated. Financial interests in key decisions can’t be a distraction for the new council. You can’t want this job just for the title.
The City of Perth is a large organisation dealing with complex issues, managing a significant budget, and dealing with multiple stakeholders. Strong leadership and solid governance is critical to regain the Perth community’s trust and respect.
The lord mayor needs a proven track record in governance and finance, and proven ability to work with the community and stakeholders.
I’m truly independent – my husband and I have no property dealings in the city; I have self-funded my campaign and not taken donations; my campaign is based on hands-on experience working in the city, not political advice; and I’m not part of a ticket.
I have proven experience for the role – being a qualified lawyer, accountant and architect, having worked in large organisations and run my own business over 25 years. I’ve dedicated the past four years to revitalising Perth’s east end through the Historic Heart project, and have served on not-for-profit boards for a decade.
I am the one with the right skills, experience and demonstrated leadership to be Perth’s next Lord Mayor.