TWENTY-two candidates had signed up by close of business on Friday to contest next month’s election for the 11 seats on Mornington Peninsula Shire Council.
The shire has six wards, with three councillors each in Briars and Seawinds wards, two in Nepean and one each in Cerberus, Red Hill and Watson.
By Friday, just two of the shire’s 10 councillors – Hugh Fraser (Nepean) and Bev Colomb (Briars) – were listed as candidates by the VEC.
However, Cr Antonella Celi (Seawinds) emailed The News to say she would be a contender; Cr David Garnock (Cerberus) has previously said he would be standing.
Crs Anne Shaw and Andrew Dixon (Briars) and David Gibb (Seawinds) have said they will not seek re-election, while Tim Wood (Red Hill), Tim Rodgers (Nepean) and the mayor Graham Pittock had yet to publicly declare their intentions.
There has been no serving councillor in Watson ward since the May resignation of Lynn Bowden which did not require a by-election because of the scheduled 22 October poll.
However, with nominations not closing until midday today (Tuesday 20 September) it is expected that many more candidates will register with the Victorian Electoral Commission, which is running the poll.
The close of nominations signals the shire going into “caretaker mode” – a 32-day period which bans the current council making “inappropriate decisions” or “those that would affect voting at an election or decisions that may unreasonably bind an incoming council and could reasonably be deferred until after the election”.
A “special” council meeting last night (Monday) called for councillors to give the go ahead for proceedings aimed at forcing Mt Martha Tennis Club to relinquish leased land for an $825,000 skatepark (story Page 3); abandoning a planning scheme amendment that would have allowed a plane to be kept on private property abutting Tyabb airfield; subdivision of the former Carrington Park golf course, Rosebud; amendments to the Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme; and supporting efforts to preserve the Dromana pier.
The caretaker mode ban prevents shire staff and resources being used for election campaigning “or in a way that may improperly influence the result of an election”.
Among non-councillors who have indicated they will stand but were not listed by the VEC on Friday are Lisa Dixon (Watson), Leigh Eustace (Briars), Sam Hearn (Briars) and Jane Clarke (Seawinds).
A list of final candidates in ballot paper order will be available on the VEC’s website in the late afternoon.
Nominations as listed by the VEC on Friday:
Briars ward (three vacancies): Nic Wishart, Fred Crump, Rosie Clark, Rebecca Taylor, Greg Gilbert and Bev Colomb.
Cerberus ward (one vacancy): David Cassels and Phil Burn.
Nepean ward (two vacancies): Colin Watson, Hugh Fraser, Russell McCraw, John McCormack and Rodger Gully.
Red Hill ward (one vacancy): Esther Gleixner, David Gill, Roslyn Browning and Tom Davies.
Seawinds ward (three vacancies): Cameron Brown, Joe Lenzo and Gary Homewood.
Watson ward (one vacancy): Chris McLennan and Michael Sixtus.
The Saturday 22 October election will be conducted by post with candidate statements and photographs published online from Monday 26 September.
Ballot papers are to be mailed out by 6 pm Friday 21 October with counting starting on Saturday 22 October.
Winners will be announced at 4pm Wednesday 2 November.
VEC senior communication officer Lawson Fletcher said information about candidates “will be progressively made available on the VEC website from Thursday”.
Information about candidates in the shire poll will be at vec.vic.gov.au/Elections/2016LocalCouncilElections
After today’s close of nominations a draw will determine the order of candidates’ names on the ballot paper.
Candidates can complete a questionnaire with answers available on the VEC website from Thursday 22 September.