Election season is coming soon. Local Government Council Elections are held every 3 years in September. COVID gave us a reprieve as it delayed the 2020 Council elections for 12 months. Now with only 3 Council meetings to go, the local political parties, independents and individual candidates are positioning themselves for a campaign that will culminate in the polling booths on Saturday 4th September 2021. There is no ‘absentee voting’ for Council elections.
Northern Beaches Council was proclaimed in May 2016 with the first election for the amalgamated Council held in September 2017. Northern Beaches Local Government Area has 5 wards, Curl Curl, Frenchs Forest, Manly, Narrabeen, and Pittwater, each with 3 elected representatives totalling 15 Councillors from a variety of political parties and some Independents. Each ward has approximately 36,000 voting residents including some non-resident but eligible business voters.
Manly Ward, which is a slightly extended area from the former Manly Council area, has been represented by Councillor Sarah Gratton, who stood on the Your Northern Beaches ‘ticket’, Councillor Candy Bingham from Good For Manly, and Councillor Pat Daley, on the Liberal ticket. They were elected from 15 candidates who stood in the ward, including candidates from Labor and the Greens. The Greens were only successful in the Curl Curl ward.
The Mayor of the Northern Beaches is not ‘directly’ elected by the eligible voters, but rather elected by the Councillors at the first Council meeting of the new Council after the elections. The merits or otherwise of a ‘directly elected Mayor’ were hotly debated at a recent council meeting where some councillors wanted to change this via a referendum at this upcoming election. The motion was not supported, and the status quo remains. We won’t be voting for a Mayor.
It is worth reflecting on the job that has been done by our elected Council representatives in steering the newly formed amalgamated Northern Beaches Council over the past 4 and a bit years. Many services, policies and procedures have been ‘harmonised’, but according to the Council papers and reports the Northern Beaches is in a good financial position.
With the Manly Daily newspaper gone it will be interesting to see how the Council election campaign plays out and how the candidates get their messages out to the residents. It is expensive to run a campaign, printing pamphlets and then asking volunteers to letterbox and hand them out at the polling booths requires funds, organisation and commitment. This can be challenging for individuals who don’t have a ‘party’ or lots of friends to provide such support.
The Manly Community Forum will run candidate forums and commentary on the election to inform our residents. Please participate and support those in the community who are standing to be your representative.