To partially paraphrase John F Kennedy: Don’t ask the council candidates what they can do for you.
The Alice Springs News has started a two-pronged coverage of the Town Council election campaign already red hot even before nominations are officially invited tomorrow, and will close on August 5.
Firstly we are requesting candidates to give us precise answers to very specific questions.
Secondly – more importantly – we are going to ask the people, the voters, what they expect from the next Mayor and the 14th Council to be elected on August 28.
Kieran Finnane, Oscar Perri, Julius Dennis and I will be reporting the views of representative bodies such as Tourism Central Australia (450 members) and Arid Lands Environment Centre (350) as well as The Person in the Street.
And our readers’ column (26,031 comments since July 6, 2011), and Letters to the Editor will be the place to go for frank but civilised public debate.
In our news columns we will politely be avoiding reports of candidates being excited or deeply wanting to serve the community or loving Alice Springs very much and so on.
We’re requesting mayoral candidates to tell us the five most important projects or initiatives of their platforms. In each case, we ask:-
• Where did you get the idea from?
• What does the public think about it?
• Cost and budget?
• Schedule – how long will it take?
• Proof it will work (e.g. research of similar efforts elsewhere) or reliable experts, preferably people who can be named, having given it their tick.
• How will it be handled by the council, especially given the frequent counter-productive five-four split in the past?
• How should the council act as an advocate for the town, vis-a-vis governments and big investors?
The reaction so far has been varied.
Steve Brown took these questions on notice, gave us a comprehensive statement on race relations and landed himself in hot water by lashing out against a sitting councillor, Cr Eli Melky.
Cr Melky and Jimmy Cocking are working on responses.
Marli Banks and Matt Paterson are in touch with Oscar Perri.
Jamie de Brenni is non committal.
And so far we haven’t had a response from Aaron Blacker, which is surprising as he may be well known in his circles but is certainly not a household name when it comes to local politics.
Stand by for more. Turn to have your say now, in the News and at the ballot box.
Erwin Chlanda, Editor.