Election candidates say they want change
TOODYAY will get a new face on council this month as the result of an election to replace former Cr Bill Manning who resigned in April to live in Tasmania.
Three newcomers have nominated for the vacancy, which will be decided by a postal ballot of all Toodyay voters starting on Thursday July 2.
The poll will close at 6pm on Friday July 31 and the winner is expected to be announced by the WA Electoral Commission in Toodyay later that evening.
The three new candidates all claim to be unaligned to Toodyay’s current eight councillors who have been split 4:4 on key decisions, including the shire presidency.Read more
Ongoing divisions also blocked an initial bid last month to secure an absolute majority of five votes to allow new Shire CEO Suzie Haslehurst to start her new job on June 22 instead of having to wait until mid-August.
The shire has lacked a full-time CEO since February, including during the recent virus lockdown, staff cuts and an emergency budget based on no increase in rates or fees and no extra charges for late payments.
Cr Brian Rayner (left), who nobody voted for in 2017, declined a Herald request to explain – with three other councillors unusually absent – why he didn’t want the new CEO to start earlier, saying it was “confidential”.
The three candidates seeking to fill former shire president Bill Manning’s seat say they all want change.
All three have professional qualifications and business skills – one is a former university business lecturer and shop owner, two have local farming experience, one is a former WA regional city administrator, and another provides financial advice to miners.
The winner is expected to break an impasse between four new councillors elected by all Toodyay voters last October and three longer-serving members who were re-elected two years earlier under a now abolished ward system that excluded most Toodyay voters.
The shire is also awaiting the outcome of a long-running WA Government inquiry into its operations and affairs over seven years.
A WA Local Government Department spokesperson said State officials would soon ask people named in the inquiry to respond to the findings before WA Local Government Minister David Templeman tables a final report in State Parliament.
Candidate April Ashley (right) posted on Facebook before last year’s elections: “I hope that sanity prevails and that the moment the new councillors take their seats, there will be no more CEO or President ‘issues’ and that the residents of 2J will be able to relax knowing that their rates will be fairly evaluated and spent wisely. Vote well folks.”
Ms Ashley – who has worked as a university business lecturer and operated small businesses, including a coffee shop and educational company – says she has no personal agenda, supports open and accountable government and that a vote for her in this month’s election will be a vote for transparency and integrity.
She said she had lectured in accounting, finance and management for 30 years at nearly all WA universities, private colleges and TAFEs and is a “positive thinker who believes in working together to achieve positive outcomes”.
“I have no personal agenda and if elected I will be your representative and your mouthpiece,” she said.
Rival candidate and Hoddys Well farmer Keith Boase (left) says “it has been disappointing to see continuing frictions within the council which is operating in a manner that causes harm to the local government and residents of the area”.
“I believe strong governance with the best interests of the residents of our shire can be achieved only by electing experienced people who will commit to providing sound decision-making without fear or favour,” Mr Boase said.
“I understand the commitment and workload involved to offer a new, independent voice to the council chamber that will bring vision and stability to restore balance in Toodyay.”
Mr Boase is a former Shire of Quairading landcare coordinator, former Agriculture Department Kalgoorlie acting district manager, former City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder environmental coordinator and manager of sustainability and waste services (including WA’s largest sewerage system outside Perth), and is currently Parks and Gardens Coordinator at the City of Swan.
The third candidate, Toodyay Central Volunteer Bushfire Brigade Captain Mick McKeown (right), says Toodyay is at a crossroads ‒ “this election provides our community with a chance to decide whether to continue with the divisions of the past or to change things for the better in the future”.
“We have significant challenges ahead and our council badly needs people who can analyse and understand complex laws, regulations and policies,” he said.
“I am not (and will not be) aligned with any group on the council and this will allow me to liaise closely with all my fellow councillors to achieve the best outcomes for the community of Toodyay.”
Mr McKeown – who is a leading member of Toodyay’s Friends of the Catholic Precinct – holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology, a Masters Degree in Engineering Science and an Agricultural Management Diploma, is a Perth Royal Show award-winning local olive oil producer and is a financial analyst for Australian and overseas mining companies.
His nomination was publicly endorsed by Crs Therese Chitty and Paula Greenway who ‘liked’ it last month on the popular Let’s Talk Toodyay page on Facebook which has more than 4400 members.
Toodyay voters should start receiving candidates’ statements, ballot papers and voting instructions in reply-paid envelopes at their postal addresses early this month.
Anyone who misses out can call the WA Electoral Commission on 13 63 06.
The Toodyay Progress Association will host a free ‘Meet the Candidates’ public forum at the Toodyay Community Centre in Stirling Terrace (next to Alma Beard Medical Centre) at 7pm on Monday July 20.