Tribal Council

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Cardinia Shire’s most popular councillor Collin Ross has slammed the “political” nature of the internal mayoral vote after his landslide re-election victory.

The Central Ward councillor along with Ranges Ward’s Brett Owen, who both received more than 36 per cent of first preference votes for their respective wards – have made public their keen intention to run head-to head for the coveted position of mayor.

Likening himself to a betrayed contestant on the reality television series Survivor, Mr Ross said that he had always struggled to gain internal popularity among his fellow councillors despite maintaining an overwhelming level of support from the community.

He said the rift with other councillors had largely eventuated as a result of his proud stance against council spending and his push for lowering council rates.

“I’ve had councillors tell me that I would make a terrific mayor but then, in the background, they simultaneously form all of these alliances with each other in exchange for promises,” Mr Ross said.

“A lot of politics goes on behind the scenes before the election of council’s mayor and in the end, I feel like the result is manipulated in someone’s favour.

“In the past after council has elected a mayor, I’ve had councillors tell me that they had been told by other councillors that they shouldn’t vote for me.

“It’s just like the show Survivor. The alliance always wins because people look out for themselves and the contestant who plays the game usually ends up winning all the money at the end even though that’s not who the viewers want to have win.

“Councillors become more worried about how their vote will affect their own future on council than what’s best for the community.

“In the end, the focus is taken away from the community.”

Mr Ross said he believed his “good rapport” with the community would make him a deserving mayor and bring out his personality as an appropriate “face of Cardinia”.

“I’ll be heading into my ninth year as a councillor and I think it’s my turn to be mayor,” Mr Ross said.

“The timing just feels right for me and my family if I was to take on that role this year.

“So I think it’s a real shame that councillors will probably put their alliances above what the community wants. Because if the mayor vote was based purely on community votes – like in Melbourne and Geelong city councils – it’s really a no brainer.”

Cr Brett Owen held the position as Cardinia Shire’s mayor in 2013.

He said he was pleased to have gained a higher percentage of votes this year compared to the previous election term.

“I’ve worked really hard over the last four years across the whole ward. It’s important to represent all towns in the ward because they’re all very different,” Mr Owen said.

“I’m very motivated and enthusiastic. Having young children, I feel that I would bring an understanding of what it’s like being a young family in the area and with my background in the police force I’d bring knowledge of community safety.

“I have a good relationship with local police, and I think that would be beneficial to guide council through helping the perception of community safety and genuine concerns for crime.

“If I was to be elected mayor, I would take 12 months off police work – with no pay – so I could fully dedicate myself to the role.”

Cr Graeme Moore, who headed Cardinia Shire Council as mayor in 2014, received almost 34 per cent of first preference votes for Port Ward this election.

Mr Moore is yet to confirm whether he intends to again contest for mayor.

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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