OPINION | An election in unprecedented times


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Douglas Shire residents go to the polls on Saturday in unprecedented times and this Local Government election will be like no other.

As we have moved closer to polling day and the coronavirus has worsened to the point of impacting every aspect of our lives, it would be hard to challenge the fact that there are now more important issues on people’s minds than electing a mayor and four councillors.

The many, who will be lining up to vote, may now be part of an ever-growing list of unemployed; or have had to shut their businesses. Their immediate thoughts will centre on their immediate future, and this is understandable.

This is not to say that the election is secondary. We face uncertain times and in times like these, strong, effective and decisive leadership is required.

And the shire finds itself in a position where everyone who goes to the polls on Saturday must seriously consider whether their chosen candidate has the qualities to make the right decision, is a true leader who will stand up for what they believe is constructive, is appropriate, and will tackle issues that arise and require addressing.

The issues that have attracted significant interest include rates, consultation, transparency, community engagement, development, the Daintree micro grid power project, the future of the Marina, to name just some of the concerns.

Newsport readers have been provided with the opportunity to learn about each of the nine candidates running for the four councillor spots and mayoral challenger Michael Kerr has readily responded to everything put before him.

Incumbent mayor Julia Leu has elected to use other mediums, although Newsport did provide her with every opportunity and reasonable timeframes to respond to our questions. She did not take up this offer.

Be that as it may. We are not using this space to challenge election strategies. And at no time in the build up to the election, did Newsport favour anyone. We stuck to the messages presented by the candidates and we produced fair, accurate and balanced commentary in our reporting.  

Instead, we are opening the way for voters to consider those who have put their name forward for ‘civic work’; can they do the job; and most importantly, are they the right candidate to get us through these troubled times.

Inevitably, change cannot be avoided in this debate. Is change for the sake of change a consideration? And when we talk about change, does this mean electing a new mayor and new councillors?

What we do know is that Councillors Kerr and David Carey will no longer occupy seats in Council chambers. Cr Carey has decided not to run again, while Cr Kerr loses his position because of his decision to run for mayor.

What is another known is that voters are more troubled by the on-going crisis and the question is how this will impact where they place their vote.

Perhaps the one shining light is that we’ve finally reached election day; and the electorate gets their opportunity to decide who they want as their mayor and councillors.

Another is the ending of questionable tactics, which we reported on earlier today and don’t warrant further analysis. 

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