VOTING in the election to fill 11 vacant seats on Mornington Peninsula Shire Council winds to a close on Friday (23 October).
The results will not be announced until next month.
Friday 13 November could be an ominous day to remember for those who miss out on a place around the decision-making table for the next four years.
But for those who win, it will mark the start of a council faced with an enormous job of bringing everyone in the municipality back from the economic and social setbacks caused by COVID-19.
Five of the sitting councillors are seeking re-election, which means that at least six of the 11 councillors will be new faces.
However, such a big turnover is not new to the shire. In 2016 just three of the 11 sitting councillors were re-elected.
Any councillors elected under a so-called “single issue” ticket will be expected to quickly acquaint themselves with myriad other issues facing the shire.
The election will also be recognised as the first fought primarily through social media, mostly on Facebook.
Debate has been intense and at times volatile, so much so that screen shots are being kept as possible evidence in any court cases that might be launched as a result.
Several community and business groups have published results of questions sent to the 43 candidates across the shire, providing the answers online so voters can make up their minds on who would do the better job (it pays about $30,000 a year plus benefits).
Peninsula Aero Club went so far as to circulate names of its preferred candidates in each ward.
The club’s president told The News in late September that it was a “fanciful notion” that the club could make a “pseudo PAC takeover of the shire, which is flattering to think we could do so… Personally I think singling out PAC is tantamount to attacking voters (PAC is a legitimate and registered voter) and is undermining the democratic process of people and organisations voting rights,” On 5 October, a letter “authorised” by Mr Vevers was distributed saying “the time for change is now”.
The letter, after outlining how the council had for two years “waged war” against the club, named candidates “we think will listen to the community and be most supportive of working with local businesses and helping to grow local jobs”.
The letter concluded with a plea to “please support these candidates in your ward and ask your friends and family to as well. Let’s build a better more prosperous community on the peninsula and save our airport”.
The shire’s action against alleged planning irregularities at the Tyabb Airfield are scheduled to be heard early next year by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The action was launched after the shire hired a QC to investigate operations and planning permits at the airfield.