JUST five of Mornington Peninsula Shire’s 11 councillors will stand for re-election in October.
The five councillors who will recontest their seats are the deputy mayor Kate Roper (Cerberus Ward), David Gill (Red Hill), Hugh Fraser (Nepean) and Antonella Celi and Simon Brooks (Seawinds).
None of the three Briars Ward councillors will seek re-election – the mayor Sam Hearn, Bev Colomb and Rosie Clark.
Other councillors retiring in October are Julie Morris (Watson Ward), Bryan Payne (Nepean) and Frank Martin (Seawinds Ward).
Although few candidates have declared their intentions to stand, one sitting councillor claims to have compiled “a Melbourne Cup long list” of council aspirants.
Voting will be done by post and because of the COVID-19 restrictions candidates will have few chances to meet voters.
Local Government Minister Shaun Leane ended rumours to the contrary last week by announcing Victorian municipal elections would proceed as planned on Saturday 24 October, with nominations closing on 22 September.
Postal ballots will be accepted from 8 October until poll eve, Friday 23 October.
Vote counts will be posted periodically online.
Cr Hearn, elected in 2016, said serving the community over the past four years had been “one of the greatest honours of my life”.
“I’ve been particularly glad to have had the opportunity as mayor to make a difference at a time of great challenge and need, and will continue to use every day I have left in the role to do so,” he said.
“Unfortunately, I can’t balance four more years working in a demanding management role combined with the significant weekly hours of a councillor and still be a half-decent dad to my young children.”
Three-time mayor Cr Bev Colomb, who has represented Briars Ward since 2005, said she would miss her time of service and providing a longer-term view to council decision-making.
“I’m known as the Grand Old Dame of council,” she quipped. “I feel for any candidates who this year won’t be able to get out and meet their constituents, but I certainly hope we get some younger, community-focused candidates to contest the [Briars] ward.”
The Victorian Electoral Commission says it has closely monitored government advice in developing a plan to “safely manage” the elections during the COVID-19 emergency.
Electoral commissioner Warwick Gately said postal voting was safe and of high integrity, and that the VEC was ready to respond to the changing environment.
He said there would be increased distancing at election offices, limited face-to-face contact and enforced mask wearing.
Measures to further safeguard voters and VEC staff will include the removal of counter service for replacement ballot packs and un-enrolled votes. Requests can be made over the phone for replacement packs to be mailed out.
Voters can hand deliver completed ballot papers to the election office if they miss mail collection times with social distancing rules in place.
Information sessions for candidates will be moved online.
It is also expected that additional social distancing during vote counting will delay the declaration of results for some elections by at least a week to Friday 13 November.
See the COVIDSafe election plan at vec.vic.gov.au/voting/2020-local-council-election/providing-safe-elections