THE 43 candidates lining up for the 11 seats on Mornington Peninsula Shire have little opportunity for physical interaction with voters, making this the first election that may be decided in large part by social media.
Most candidates have Facebook and other social media accounts and online debate has, in some cases, been fast and furious for weeks.
The Victorian Electoral Commission will mail out ballot packs between 6 and 8 October and votes must be either mailed back or delivered to electoral offices by 6pm on Friday 23 October.
Ominously for some, results will be announced on Friday 13 November.
Voting is compulsory for all those on the state electoral role, including those aged 70 and over.
Despite a concerted effort by the Municipal Association of Victoria to encourage women councillors, the number of male candidates on the peninsula outnumber women by 26 to 17.
Five of the current councillors are women but three are not seeking re-election.
The MAV wanted the elections postponed until next year because of COVID-19 restrictions but was overruled by the state government.
Although candidates can letterbox pamphlets, they are not allowed to door knock.
Just five of the 11 current councillors are seeking re-election, which means a majority of the new council will be first-timers, although at least one candidate has been a councillor in another municipality. Several have previously stood unsuccessfully for the shire.
Issues likely to confront the new council include protecting the green wedge, opposing AGL’s plans for a gas import terminal at Crib Point (a decision to be made by the state and federal governments) and the ongoing fractious relationship between the shire and Peninsula Aero Club over operations at Tyabb airfield.
The new council could vote to abandon a showdown looming over the airfield at the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal early in the new year.
The ongoing investigations by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) could also see former councillors named over their involvement with previous council decisions affecting the Martha Cove marina and housing development at Safety Beach.
There are no councillors seeking re-election in the three-councillor Briars Ward, which has 15 candidates, or single-councillor Watson Ward, with five candidates.
At least three Watson Ward candidates can be regarded as being pro-Peninsula Aero Club, while another has been a prominent member of Save Westernport, the community group opposing AGL’s gas import plan.
Despi O’Connor, Janet Street, Peter Orton, Julia McCarthy, Anthony Marsh, Wayne Hinton, Barbara O’Reilly, Andrew Ward, Belinda Rodman, Jill Stanszus, Stephen Batty, Peter Fitzgerald, Dion Mullett Treloar, Steve Holland, Bruce Ranken.
Neil Biggins, Lisa Dixon, Darren Barnfield, Kate Roper.
Simon Mulvany, Sarah Race, Gary Naughton, Susan Bissinger, Mechelle Cheers, Hugh Fraser, Mark Davis.
Red Hill Ward
David Breadmore, Claire Thorn, Melissa Goffin, David Gill, Tim Davies.
Simon Brooks, Simon Galli, Debra Mar, Kerri McCafferty, George Conrad, Jared Tipping, Antonella Celi.
Paul Mercurio, Louise Page, Michael Stephens, Stefan Borzecki, Bernhard Loois.