Sunday, January 8, 2012

Independence.....what it means to me.

The Council elections are heating up....already! Over the past few weeks there has been much talk on the Independent versus Team debate and further talk regarding what actually makes an Independent. There is also much conversation referring to campaign funds and the specifics on where they come from.

There are obvious pros and cons for both initial options and the reasons for Candidates choosing which way they will go are unique and individual. I cannot speak for a single other candidate and refuse to enter into debate about the opponents in my own Division regarding their choices and their funding. I am not them.

What I will do though, is use this forum as a tool to explain my own choices and to give those interested a firm understanding of why I made them. Generally, this blog is for interests outside my own front door and I frankly prefer to extend my view outward rather than inward. In this instance I will turn the microscope onto myself in an effort to halt any ill-conceived notions that may exist out there.

It is common knowledge that I am running my Campaign as an Independent. So, what does that mean? Am I a member of a political party?

Those who read this blog regularly will know that yes, I am. I am a member of the ALP. During State elections held later this year, I will be voting for Curtis Pitt. Frankly, if I was not a member of the party I'd still be voting for Curtis as I believe he is doing his job extremely well and the community has benefited from his work.

Federally, there have been instances where I have been very disappointed in decisions made. However, I choose to remain part of the party and work from within to remind people of the core values of the ALP.

And that is where my affiliation with the ALP becomes relevant to this conversation. I joined the Labor Party because of it's core principles. The ALP should stand up for the worker and their rights, offer small business support, work for social equality and inclusion and community building through infrastructure and supportive services. All things I am known for being passionate about. It's these principles which I will be taking with me in the role of Councillor.

So, why did I choose not to run as part of a team?

For me, there were a few reasons for that. One was my firm belief that Council should always remain independent of party politics. My principles will remain as they are, with or without party membership, but there is no place in Council Chambers for ALP policy.

Council is the first tier of Government. It is the most accessible and the most connected with the community we live in. That being the case, it should directly reflect the views of the community, not just the person that they elected.

Secondly, I chose independence because I wish to retain the right to think and act independently, according to what the needs are of this community. In this case, running as part of a 'mixed' team was also not an option for me. A mixed team is usually made up primarily of one particular political leaning...right or left....with the odd member who gives the team the ability to reject the idea that they are politically affiliated with each other.

My personal opinion on this idea, is that it is misleading and is far too engineered.

I'm all for collaboration and there are many candidates who have announced they are running who I believe share my values and principles, but aligning myself with people I do not share those ideals with would essentially be a lie. Making decisions primarily on the basis of securing a win is no longer a viable option.

People are smarter than that. They will look at their Candidates with a discerning eye and judge them based on who they are, what they stand for and how well they believe they will represent them in the job. Collaboration with the community should always be the first step (and is the most important) for any representative.

That makes honesty paramount. I could not do something during the course of this campaign that did not sit right with me or my community. If elected, I will continue to make decisions which sit right for those I represent.

That is the basis of my decision to run as an Independent. Because that is exactly what I will be. An independent thinker, with the needs of my Division and the wider community the first concern, at all times.

I've mentioned many times that collaboration is key to a successful Council. It's true. This is why I would hope that all those who vote take that into account. Choose those you believe have the ability to collaborate. But even more importantly, those who share ideals and views with YOU. The voter. Because ultimately, if you choose representatives who are in a team based only on that idea, you may well end up with representatives who are making decisions that you do not want them to make.

As for funding of a campaign. I'm not sure how many of you know how expensive running a campaign can get. For me, the corflutes, flyers, business cards and calling cards have already cost quite a bit. There is still more to do, and more money to part with, before March rolls around. Some are lucky enough to have savings set aside for this purpose. They are therefore able to fully fund their own campaign. That's fantastic. It's always preferable to be able to do that.

I do not have that luxury. Like many others living in this area, I live in a household with three small children, household expenses, vehicle expenses and a mortgage. I have only accepted donations for my campaign from friends and family and all have given small amounts. I will continue to accept donations from those who wish to support me but will absolutely NOT be taking any money from developers or from businesses. It is heartening that many wish to help out in some way toward my campaign and the offers of assistance have so far ranged from letter folding, door-knocking and leaflet delivery, to offering to hand out How To Vote Cards and donating $50 to purchases of t-shirts.

All of these people have been encouraging of my efforts and I believe they have contributed for the right reasons. If you live in a Division with a Candidate who is going it alone and you believe they will represent you well if elected, I urge you to contact them and offer your support. It's a long, tough road, which can be made easier by knowing that the community has your support.

Ok. That's me and my campaign in a nutshell. I'm sure there are more questions I will need to answer as time goes by and I will endeavour to do that outside of this forum. In direct conversation or via alternate media. In this case, the answer being a detailed one, I felt that this option was more suitable.

Thank you to all those who have offered support and guidance over the past few months. Your assistance has been invaluable. I look forward to continuing to campaign with all of you right beside me and hope that all of your hard work pays off with good results on election night.