COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA
So much for the need of fresh blood to make the town tick: Headed up by re-elected Mayor Damien Ryan the conservatives seem to have it in the bag, what’s more with a succession plan in place: Jamie de Brenni has openly declared he will run for the top job next time and the next generation, the young conservatives Matt Paterson and Joshua Burgoyne, who preferences each-other, could well get their feet in the door.
The enormous vote for Jacinta Price is part of this conservative triumph, perhaps helped by a disgraceful Trump-style slanging match on Facebook, hardly Making Alice Springs Great Again.
So here we are again, a slightly expanded version of Roads, Rates and Rubbish, bereft of the vision and understanding of the superb opportunities befitting this extraordinary town and its human and natural environment.
Incumbent councillor Ms Price is noted for her low-key performance in the last council. One of her ideas was suggesting to install pedal powered mobile phone chargers in the streets as a measure to combat juvenile delinquency.
To be fair, Ms Price and Matt Patterson did well on the ABC’s recent Q&A, the latter with his question on airfares.
Cr Price has 2059 votes, nearly 600 more than environmental activist and loser in the mayoral race, Jimmy Cocking in number two place, and more than double that of her nearest conservative candidate, Cr Jamie de Brenni.
Cr Price and Cr Cocking preferenced each-other in 17th of the 18 positions, signalling fireworks for the next four years.
The primary count suggests it was not a great day for democracy in this town. The Melbourne Cup field of candidates for councillor indicated a significant portion of the town wanted change.
Yet a third of the enrolled voters didn’t turn up at all (postal votes are still to be counted but they amounted to just 178 in the 2012 election).
Nearly half of the people who did vote did so in the two weeks of pre-polling, as many of the new candidates were still trying to get their message out or sought to develop it in dialogue with the electorate.
Some candidates made no serious campaign effort but finished up high on the preference list of prominent candidates.
But it’s not really a worry. Thankfully the council doesn’t have powers over major issues such as town planning, alcohol reform, crime in the streets, street kids (not his problem, says Mayor Ryan) and tourist promotion – these are issues the people will have to continue to fight out with the lame NT Government.
But the council could have been a powerful lobby for the town, with intelligent foresight pushing for major changes benefitting the community. Pity that this election will not bestow the credibility on the council to be an effective advocate.
What’s more, little change is can be expected, with succession plans already in place: Outgoing Deputy Mayor Mr de Brenni is all systems go for Mayor in four years’ time.
As local historian Alex Nelson comments, this town has seen big fields of candidates and conservative results before, but not for a candidate getting so much for so little.
COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA