It’s time to vote in the 2020 local council elections, here’s what it means for our arts, entertainment and hospitality industries
16.10.2020

It’s time to vote in the 2020 local council elections, here’s what it means for our arts, entertainment and hospitality industries

This council election plays a crucial role in rebuilding these sectors

What is the local election?

Held every four years on the fourth Saturday in October, Australia runs the local elections to decide who will lead decisions around things like building, planning, roads, parking, recreation, culture and more.

In Victoria, there are 79 local councils with around 2,000 candidates trying for 250 seats within those councils. Voters elect councillors to represent them in the local council for their area – so for us in Geelong, it’s the Greater Geelong City Council.

So, what are these candidates running for? What does the council do?

Councils provide a wide variety of services to their municipalities and enforce various federal, state and local laws for their communities and the councillors make decisions about local issues, such as rubbish collection, recreation, culture, planning, parks and sporting grounds, health services, community services, emergency management, libraries and building permits, among other things.

Within this, local council lead the decisions around libraries, museums, parks, gardens, arts facilities, local festivals and celebrations, events, recreation facilities, public buildings and much more – whether that be an organiser, as a lead agency in securing funding, as a source of funds itself (e.g. through minor grants programs to community groups), as a source of information and advice, or as the operator of a certain task/activity/event.

Councils often cooperate closely with the community and work in partnership with other tiers of government to fund and coordinate certain outcomes.

The Greater Geelong City Council and electoral wards

One of the first things you need to know when voting or looking into the candidates is what ward you will be voting in.

The Greater Geelong area is divided into four electoral wards: Bellarine, Brownbill, Kardinia and Windermere. These wards are represented by eleven councillors who serve a four-year term; three councillors each for Bellarine, Brownbill, and Kardinia and two for the Windermere ward.

These elected Councillors make up the Geelong Council, whose job it is to provide leadership and good governance for the municipality and the local community.

In this year’s election, there are 39 candidates running; 10 in the Bellarine ward, 12 in the Brownbill ward, 12 in the Kardinia ward, and five in the Windermere ward. The ward you vote in depends on your residence and where you’re enrolled to vote. You can find out what electoral ward you’re in here.

Why this council election plays a vital role in rebuilding the hospitality, music and arts sectors

There is a growing understanding in Victoria as to how valuable the creative sector and specifically live music can be to Local Government; strengthening economies, creating more liveable communities and improving social outcomes.

Small businesses, the hospitality industry and the live music and touring industry have been some of the hardest hit by the lockdown measures enforced to slow the spread of COVID-19. Consumers across the country were ordered to stay home; retail outlets, pubs, restaurants and cafes told to shut their doors; and festivals, gigs and events were cancelled or postponed for the unforeseen future.
As we slowly navigate our way out of restrictions and into ‘COVID normal’, this upcoming local election comes at a particularly important time. The councillors we elect now will be the ones in charge of rebuilding their local communities and supporting small businesses and the hospitality, music and arts industries post-lockdown.

Councils are uniquely placed to support these industries, and through collaborative planning, existing resources and levers, they can help deliver positive and sustainable social, economic and cultural outcomes for communities.

Meet the candidates with plans to rebuild the music, hospitality and arts sectors

As with most things, different people will have different opinions, and different voters will have different needs and desires from what they want to see from their elected councillors and the community.

With a passion about music, hospitality, the arts, climate action and tourism in Greater Geelong, we’ve caught up with some of the council candidates from each of Geelong’s electoral wards to find out how they plan to support these industries get back on their feet, alongside highlighting what their priorities will be if they elected into council.

We aren’t going to tell you how to vote, and nor should we. We’re just highlighting what we feel is relevant to our readers and hopefully this will encourage voters to seek out information about the candidates gunning for a spot on the council and use your vote to achieve what matters to you.

For the integrity of this article, we contacted all 39 candidates and the following were the one’s to respond.

Kardinia Ward

The Kardinia Ward encompasses Armstrong Creek, Belmont, Ceres, City of Greater Geelong, Grovedale, Highton, Marshall, Mount Duneed, Wandana Heights and Waurn Ponds.

Councillors currently representing the Ward are Bruce Harwood, Pat Murnane and Ron Nelson.

Michael Stangel – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?
T.E.A.M.S will be the platform that I will be launching my initiatives for the southern region of Geelong. T.E.A.M.S stand for Tourism, Entertainment, Arts, Mental Health and Small Business comprise of both essential needs and growth areas that can give us so much more.

I also stand for:

  • More CCTV.
  • Development of skate parks.
  • More funding for neighbourhood houses.
  • Imporioved facilities for G.A.W.S
  • Development of more libraries and parks in Armstrong Creek.
  • Capping rates.
  • Further development of Emergency development plan.
  • Opposed to increases in council services like Child care.
  • Preserving the heritage of Geelong.

How do you plan to support hospitality and live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?
Outdoor dining seems to be the buzz word right now when it comes to kick-starting hospitality. There is an opportunity for venues partnering up with events companies, utilising marquees, using council land to create events. I would also like to engage local stakeholders and entertainers in collaborative “think tanks” to develop ideas and implement them. I have a vision for the old South Barwon Civic centre to be an arts hub much like the potato shed has done in the Bellarine.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor, and how do you aim to support them?
I have been in the entertainment industry since I was 14 years old, and my career as an entrepreneur and innovator in my field speaks for itself. I’ve created opportunities for young people through running record labels, recording studios, publishing houses and artist management. I’ve had the pleasure of working with so many artists locally and abroad. My key learnings, from such a vast span of experience, is that no one idea is perfect without input from others. Setting up opportunities for the community to contribute to ideas in this area will be paramount to support this industry. The first thing I will do if elected will be to develop and implement an emergency recovery plan for the arts and live music scene as quickly as possible.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?
I will be advocating for common sense values on the council. I do not want to see some of the overreaching and politically motivated decisions. I want to bring the southern suburbs to life, be the voice for change and growth. Kardinia is the gateway to the Surf Coast and the Bellarine.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?
I’m a great supporter of Sensible climate action as long as it does not exclude the viability of the community.

What are your plans for supporting tourism in the region?
Think Bigger. Better, Bolder. Let’s bring more attention to the region through campaigns that create excitement and anticipation. Our beautiful beaches and rich history needs to be amplified. I want to build T.E.A.M.S on the council and in the community. Tourism, Entertainment, Arts, Mental Health and

Small Business are the foundation of my bid for local government.

Andrew Alexander – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?
Post-COVID, our Council needs to urgently develop projects that will stimulate jobs in Geelong which will attract immediate State and Federal Government infrastructure funding.

I’m concerned that our commercial rates make doing business in Geelong less competitive when compared to other local government areas. The way Council has been assessing and levying rates needs to be urgently reviewed. Since COVID-19, the Council is prepared to provide some relief to small businesses, but these measures do little to address the fundamental imbalance created by how our commercial rates are charged.

How do you plan to support hospitality and live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown? How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?
The Council has a vital role listen to small business and become more focused on the needs of this vital part of our local economy. As a commercial lawyer, many of my clients are small businesses and they are frustrated that Council has ignored many issues that make doing business in Geelong very challenging.

Our hospitality, music and arts venues are what makes living in Geelong so enjoyable. It brings us together, we relax and make new friends. These small businesses have been significantly affected by the restrictions. These small businesses give our city its culture, but they are also a key driver for employment, investment and tourism. The key to getting them reopening is to encourage spending, so I would be advocating that Council seek State and Federal Government assistance to help co-fund the issuing of hospitality/arts vouchers to all residents to spend at a City of Greater Geelong hospitality, arts/music venue.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?
One of my key priorities is to create a dedicated CBD bus terminal hub that makes taking a bus from our outer suburbs into the CBD and other parts of the City an accessible and enjoyable experience. One solution would be to seek both Federal and State Government support to acquire and redevelop market square and create an integrated bus transport, shopping, retail and hospitality hub.

Another one of my key priorities is to create better transport links between Avalon Airport and the new Spirit of Tasmania facility to make Geelong a key domestic tourism destination. We need to make the most of this opportunity as international travel will be restricted. The Council will need to invest in a strong and effective tourist advertising campaign to make this happen.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?
Our Councillors took a very long time to make a clear statement on climate change. If elected, I will work hard to ensure that the Council immediately actions the sustainability plan without delay. The Council has not achieved much in this last term of Council for our environment. We have no time to delay.

Jack Williams – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?
Supporting small business will initially mean getting more people to get out again, and bring back tourism to Geelong. Promoting local should be the focus as well as making Geelong attractive to interstate and intrastate travellers. Even if it means stopping in for a coffee, that’s a local business that benefitted.

How do you plan to support hospitality and live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?
Live music and hospitality is an essential part of the Geelong identity – our culture. Events in the Little Malop St area will promote people to visit the many wonderful bars, restaurants and venues there. I will advocate for known musical acts to pass through Geelong on tours to further support our local music scene.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?
As stated above this is part of Geelong’s culture and live music in some of our ‘classic’ venues is pivotal to that. If elected I will support these venues and bid for events/festivals that benefit them to consider Geelong.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?
I am running on three main points – youth, inclusion and sustainability. As a councillor I would like to achieve something from each of these. I would like to see drop in centres for youth and disadvantaged people, including them in our community so they feel listened to and participate.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?
Climate change is the challenge of our generation, as a young person I feel very strongly about how it will affect our future if we don’t act NOW! Pushing for zero net emissions for all council services will be a high priority, as well as supporting businesses to aim for the same. I am young person and I care about not just the next 20 years, but the next 50 and a ‘future we can count on’.

Bellarine Ward

The Bellarine Ward encompasses Barwon Heads, Bellarine, Breamlea, Clifton Springs, Connewarre, Curlewis, Drysdale, Indented Head, Leopold, Mannerim Marcus Hill, Moolap, Ocean Grove, Point Lonsdale, Portarlington, St Leonards, Swan Bay and Wallington.

Councillors currently representing the Ward are Jim Mason, Stephanie Asher and Trent Sullivan.

Cory Wolverton – Australian Greens

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?
Community services such as those that support families and young people will need to be stronger than ever. I really want to see these services resourced and funded to allow community wellbeing to thrive.
A really important part of supporting small business is actively listening. Council will need to listen to small business and do what it can, while advocating to state and federal politics about what needs to happen here in Geelong, to ensure all businesses survive this next difficult period.

How do you plan to support hospitality and live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?
I was a chef for ten years before I started in my current role as a social worker. I know the tight profit margins those in hospitality are on. Coming into summer, we need to ensure that outdoor eating and drinking is made available to all venues that can accommodate it. We really need to be innovative and work with venues, promote them and have a safe and successful re-opening.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?
Super important! I have played music and played in bands for a long time. I have seen so many gigs at venues like the Barwon Club, watching bands, watching friends play and performing myself. Some of my best friends have come out of a shared love of listening and playing music. I want all reopenings to be safe of course, but I can not wait to see live music again and we need to do all we can to make sure it happens successfully.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

  • Adequate access to community health programs, particularly youth support programs to help young people overcome challenges relating to mental health, education, family and peer relationships.
  • Taking action on climate change, which includes environmental sustainability through renewable energy projects and careful land management that protects biodiversity in our coast, wetlands and reserves.
  • A council/community tree planting program that will actually deliver trees in both rural landscapes and throughout urban streetscapes.
  • Implementing a waste and recycling program where compostable food waste does not end up in landfill and recycling is responsibly processed.
  • Appropriate strategic vision for town boundaries out on the Bellarine.
  • Innovative urban design to increase walking and bike paths and improve public spaces

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

We need action on climate change within council, but also within the community. The Geelong Councils Sustainability action plan is a business as usual approach, but it is not business as usual, it’s a climate emergency. There are many things we can do including adopting renewables at council and incentivising others in the community to do the same, an ambitious tree planting program of one million trees in four years and a waste program that processes food waste as well as green waste.

Steve Simmonds – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?
Listen, learn and prioritise! I want to be a new face, with fresh thinking and creative approaches based on facts and needs. Less spin and more substance!!

How do you plan to support hospitality and live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?
By recognising its importance to return as soon as it is safe to do so and by recognising that the council will need to make significant and targeted investment in helping out all within the industry. Some are doing it much tougher than others and we need to support the most in need first.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?
Very! These bind the whole community together and make the city the vibrant and special place that it is. It will need significant support and probably much change while we navigate our way out of the current crisis. Will need new thinking and new ideas!

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?
I think we have been badly let down by previous councils and new faces and a fresh approach is needed. I want to be part of a whole new team and try to change the system from within to the benefit of the whole community. We need a Motocross Track and Sale Yards in our region! I mention both not because I have any special interest in either, it is just that it seems crazy a city of our size can just let such activities / venues be lost forever. Both were significant drivers of investment and activity and for me are emblematic of council failure and short term thinking.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?
Very important and a huge priority. Less talk and more action, it is our children’s future!

Stephanie Asher – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?
Continue to provide targeted support for businesses, including the arts/culture and tourism/hospitality sectors which have been hardest hit. Encourage visitors (safely of course) to the region and continue to campaign for locals to use local businesses and come up with clever and creative ideas to generate employment opportunities.

How do you plan to support hospitality and live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?
Targeted support, lobby for (safe) easing of restrictions to allow people to gather and enjoy music in numbers, dine out and generally get back to the lifestyle that lifts morale and supports local artists and tourism/hospitality operators. Continue to encourage and facilitate outdoor-based events and promote the support for musicians and artists, as well as tourism, accommodation and hospitality venues

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?
Very important to a balanced, energetic, fun and creative society so a critical part of our community. It’s also vital that we provide creative employment options and the chance for spiritual expression through music and the arts – without it we are a very dull and rather sad species.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?
A sustainable way of working and managing the growth of our region, better employment opportunities, higher standards of professionalism and work generally, good communication between the community and City of Greater Geelong.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?
Very important – in fact the highest priority of the sustainability action plan. Once the Sustainability Committee is appointed (late 2020 with applications opening to the community in November 2020) the first job is to review the Climate Change Response Plan, set targets for all sustainability activities and establish how to involve the community and bring in the expertise required. It is critical that an emissions target is set and highly recommended that CoGG produces a Climate Position Statement to articulate what will be done and by when.

Brownbill Ward

The Brownbill Ward encompasses Batesford, Bell Park, Bell Post Hill, Breakwater, Drumcondra, East Geelong, Fyansford, Geelong, Geelong West, Hamlyn Heights, Herne Hill, Manifold Heights, Moolap, Newcomb, Newtown, North Geelong, Rippleside, South Geelong, St Albans Park, Thomson and Whittington.

Councillors currently representing the Ward are Eddy Kontelj, Peter Murrihy and Sarah Mansfield.

Srechko (Stretch) Kontelj – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?
Council must adopt a budget and strategy for the next four years that focusses on supporting the community and business to create jobs. This must be the priority that underpins everything Council does over the next four years. In this regard, Council should accelerate expenditure on infrastructure such as roads, drains and footpaths and fast track expenditure on shovel ready community assets such as sporting facilitates and grounds. The procurement and tendering function should give affirmative preference to Geelong suppliers and contractors who employ locals. In addition, Council must advocate and lobby State and Federal Government for regional community building expenditure which should include funds to finally get the Convention Centre built. In short, its about jobs, jobs, jobs!

How do you plan to support hospitality and live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?
We must lobby the State Government to open up Geelong for business and not allow it to languish alongside Melbourne. The State members of Parliament have been completely silent on the support of the hospitality industry during this crisis. Council must fill the void and be a strong advocate for the hospitality and live music industry. Business fees and charges and Council rates must be waived for the coming year. Parking must remain free to encourage patrons back into the hospitality precinct. The Council must be innovative in allowing ‘pop up’ venues and do what it can to enliven the laneways and alfresco offering in the CBD.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?
If elected, I will champion the arts, theatre and the live music sector. The massive issues for the sector are access to affordable venues and access to Council grants. I will push for a forum with local artists, theatre groups and representatives of the live music sector to agree on the challenges and opportunities that need addressing over the next four years. I will advocate for the establishment of a Portfolio for the Arts, Theatre and Music Sector to give ongoing focus to this vitally important sector of Geelong’s community. The arts, hospitality and live music sectors give the city its soul. For too long, the arts and music sectors have been underrepresented around the Council Chamber when compared to sporting clubs and associations. I want to help redress this imbalance.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

  • Job creation
  • Economic and environment sustainability
  • Protection of the environment and investment in open space
  • Community engagement
  • An arts lead recovery of the CBD

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?
-Council must take a leadership role in environmental sustainability and in reducing its carbon footprint. The Council must be an exemplar in best practice in regard to clean and green practices and ways of working. I believe the Council should set targets to increase recycling and in reducing waste going to landfill. Having recently returned from living overseas for five years, I have seen how many European cities have embraced economic and environmental sustainability to transform their cities into clean, green 21st century cities. Geelong has a long way to go but needs to get serious. I believe that during the COVID-19 crisis our open spaces were our sanctuary. Council must identify more open space and invest in its preservation and protection for current and future generations to enjoy.

Peter Murrihy – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?
I think first and foremost as a Council we must listen to what small businesses are telling us. Find out exactly what is required and work towards achieving goals. There has been a number of supportive packages to assist in this time but there may be the need for more.

How do you plan to support hospitality and live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?
Hospitality is the big one here. Alfresco dining is what could lead the local cafes and restaurants out of this mess. I will advocate to cut the red tape that is normally associated with this and encourage owners/managers to unite to form special shared dining areas.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?
Where possible promote and encourage live music venues to re open and adapt.
I have always been a regular attendee at the Arts and as a Councillor will continue to sing their praises from the rooftop !!!!!

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?
What I want to achieve is to make a positive difference with many priority projects.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?
I supported the Climate Emergency Vote which unfortunately was defeated and we now have adapted a Sustainability Strategy which is ok. I will continue to pursue goals in this strategy.

Sarah Mansfield – Australian Greens

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?
As a current Greens councillor for the City of Greater Geelong, I have supported a whole range of measures aimed at supporting small business and the community. If re-elected, I will continue to advocate for more support to build more relient local communities and businesses, and particularly focus on those most in need. To do this it will be important to:

  • Support local employment through maintaining council jobs and prioritising local business when procuring goods and services;
  •  Provide high quality services like libraries, home care and child care;
  •  Support youth employment the Regional Industry Sector Employment program;
  • Increase the availability of social, public and affordable housing;
  • Support existing community gardens and help to build more;
  • Improve access to green space;
  • Invest in active transport options including safe cycling and walking paths, and revitalise shopping strips;
  • Listen to small businesses to understand their needs and what more council can do to support them.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?
Arts and live music bring life to a city, and this is even more true during challenging times like the one we are currently going through. I was proud to support funding directed to arts and live music, including $510 000 towards increasing employment opportunities in creative industries, grants, and skills and training. We need to continue to look at creative ways to support arts and live music sectors, and the hospitality venues that many work with. This includes: assisting existing venues to stay open or re-open (such as continuing the hardship policy regarding rates and fees), and making new ones that are COVID safe available (especially outdoors, like our laneways); promoting local arts and live music and encouraging local support; investigating establishment of a hub for artists’ residencies and collaboration; funding arts grants; and ongoing engagement with the sector to better understand what more can be done to support them.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?
I am proud of what I’ve been able to achieve in my first term, including pushing for stronger action on climate change, increasing social and affordable housing, providing safer cycling infrastructure, fighting for the Green Spine, preventing harm from poker machines, and reducing waste going to landfill including single use plastics. I have been an advocate for gender equity, better recognition of First Nations people, and more inclusive Council services for all ages and abilities. However, there is much more to be done. If re-elected, my priorities will be: 1) Continuing to fight for stronger action on climate change; 2) Improving public transport, cycling and walking options for a safer and better-connected Geelong; 3) Increasing the availability of affordable and social housing; 4) Increasing local employment opportunities and greater support for local business and arts to rebuild a vibrant CBD; 5) Supporting improved community sports facilities to grow female participation

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?
I led the efforts to declare a Climate Emergency at the City of Greater Geelong in my first term, and will continue to fight for stronger action on climate change if re-elected. While the council is doing well at reducing carbon emissions from its own operations, this is only 1% of the emissions in the municipality. Much more needs to be done to help the rest of our community reduce their emissions, and to reduce the impacts of climate change on our health and wellbeing (e.g. urban cooling through tree planting, improving our stormwater systems to deal with flooding, restoration of vulnerable natural habitats like the You Yangs).

Eddy Kontelj – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?
As you may or may not be aware, however, as a current Councillor, in the past 5 months with my support Council adopted some $16M in support packages. These includes rate waivers and reductions, waiver of alfresco dining and A-frame fees, Free CBD Parking until the end of this year, support for the arts and events sector and much more.

Going forward, we will need to continue to support small business, particularly the hospital industry. It is my intent to push hard to introduce Free on street CBD Parking permanently, particularly around hospitals. This will encourage more people into the CBD. This has already proven to be successful in the trial period.

Reducing the red tape in council planning and engineering departments is also important to allow business to progress and grow. This will also reduce waiting times to obtain permits such as Alfresco Dining.

Provide business and marketing training and resources to assist those small businesses that cannot afford it.

Review the manner in which Council calculate and apply rates with the intent of reducing rate charges.

Continue to activate Geelong’s CBD laneways to encourage live entertainment and dining.

How do you plan to support hospitality and live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?
As above and initiate a strong ‘Shop Local’ campaign.
Lobby all levels of government to provide further support and funding to this sector. I recently joined We Make Events silent protest to assist them light up buildings and venues in Geelong in red to bring awareness to the events industry that is in crisis. I joined Joe Kovac & JJJK Entertainment Sound & Lighting Geelong at Home House and Geelong Hotel to throw my support behind this cause and highlight to governments that this is one industry that is falling through the cracks of COVID.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?
Being a very average muso myself, live music, events and the arts are a passion of mine. It is extremely important that this sector stays healthy to allow these special and talented people to follow their passion and build careers and employment from their special skill set. Equally, as a society we need to be able to experience music and the arts for our wellbeing and mental stability. As noted above, I recently joined We Make Events silent protest to assist them light up buildings and venues in Geelong in red to bring awareness to the events industry that is in crisis. I joined Joe Kovac & JJJK Entertainment Sound & Lighting Geelong at Home House and Geelong Hotel to throw my support behind this cause and highlight to governments that this is one industry that is falling through the cracks of COVID.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?
Free CBD parking, particularly around city hospitals, and the continuation of hard waste collection are two initiatives I will be advocating to implement permanently if elected. I will also focus on navigating Geelong, including small business, through COVID-19 and beyond. In order to create employment opportunities, I will push for capital investment in drainage, footpaths, roads, playgrounds, community and sporting facility upgrades and much needed transport and fishing infrastructure. I will fight for the delivery of efficient and effective services to minimise rate increases and financial burden. I will urge council to provide subsidies to support child care and aged care programs. In addition, ensuring our community has appropriate all abilities / disability access in all council facilities and more broadly will be imperative. I will lobby for better public transport and increased police presence to improve safety and security, and to reduce violence, theft, graffiti, vandalism and hoon driving. This will include identifying high security risk areas that will benefit from the installation of CCTV cameras. I will actively help and support valuable organisations that represent the best interest of our community, youth, families, our precious elderly, sporting clubs and our respected military veterans. I will champion environment protection initiatives such as the use of recycled materials, including glass, plastics, rubber and recycled concrete in roads, footpaths, playgrounds and outdoor furniture. Passionately supporting and advocating for our live music, entertainment and arts industry will also be a priority. Reforming and simplifying council planning, building and engineering processes and practices to encourage appropriate employment generating developments will be of high importance. As a husband and father of three daughters I have a genuine interest in community and our environment and pledge to work extremely hard to ensure your concerns are heard and represented.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?
This is extremely important to me, but more so to us all globally. As the current City of Greater Geelong Environment Portfolio Chair, in the last 6 months this Council have taken significant steps and actions related to reducing emissions, our carbon footprint and caring for our precious environment. I’m proud that under my guidance we have adopted the Council Environment Strategy 2020-2030 and Action Plan 2020-22. The action plan will be updated every two years.

In addition to this, we also adopted the Council Sustainability Framework and action plan. The Sustainability Framework brings together all our priorities and actions relating to sustainability. We aim to create and maintain a sustainable, thriving environment for our community, that can withstand the impacts of climate change.

If re-elected I will continue to challenge Council to be courageous and adventurous in protecting our environment. So, with all of this said, I trust you can see I am extremely committed and passionate about Geelong and our community. I have been a Councillor since 2010 and I am looking forward to 4 more years of representing our beautiful community.

Jose Rodriguez – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?
The believe it best is to continue promoting community activity, and ensuring that hosts/operators understand and maintain their ‘covid-safe’ obligations.
I myself believe it is important to participate directly in this rebuilding/support process by either being a customer or by listening to community needs, to determining a suitable way forward for each.

How do you plan to support hospitality and live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?
I believe there are a number of ways that Council could support hospitality/live music venues; this could be fee/permit waivers, marketing/publicity, provision of ‘covid-safe’ checks and supplies (to ensure compliance with State Govt. Medical advice), subsidised-venue hire or hosting new open-air events. Moving to an outdoors model, for hospitality/live-music, perhaps through semi-permanent outdoor sites, or even through “mini-street festivals”.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?
This sector is very important to me, and I believe that a thriving local art and live music sector will play a very important role in the future of Geelong.
I believe what we are missing in Geelong is this notion of ‘unique-experience’, so what I would like to do is bring together some of Geelong’s unique natural/built environment and couple it with this entertainment sector; for a uniquely Geelong experience.
I would also like to promote hybrid business models; such as a bar/cinema. or bike-repairs/open-mic or architecture office/art-gallery etc.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?
My priorities are to i) advance the Clever and Creative Vision, ii) to promote alternative Housing Models (particularly Affordable/Sustainable/Socially Conscious models). iii) to link our natural/heritage features through a well understood bike network.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?
Climate action is very important to me, and though we are all unsure of when the effects of climate change will hit our region hardest, there is no reason to be complacent. I do believe that we can make better use of the resources currently available to us, and I do believe we have the means to achieve great results in this area; if not to become a national leader in it.
I first wish to implement local targets, both for the region, and the organisation, and to promote these as best practice. I’d also like to illustrate this vision and ask the question “What does the Region look like, if we get this right?” This can serve as a great motivator and helps us to reflect on the reasons behind our choices.

Windermere ward

The Windermere Ward encompasses Anakie, Avalon, Balliang, Batesford, Bell Park, Bell Post Hill, Corio, Fyansford, Hamlyn Heights, Lara, Little River, Lovely Banks, Moorabool, Norlane, North Geelong, North Shore, Point Wilson and Staughton Vale.

Councillors currently representing the Ward are Anthony Aitken and Kylie Grzybek.

Sarah Hathway – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?
Access to outside spaces for hospitality and live entertainment venues are going to be important to support local businesses as we come out of lockdown in to the new “Covid normal”. Council needs to work with local businesses and residents to ensure businesses can remain viable and operate in a way that is safe for the community to operate.

How do you plan to support hospitality and live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?
An increased in outside dining and outside stages/entertainment areas are important. Both for the CBD but in the outer suburbs where appropriate as well.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?
Supporting local talent and the local live music scene is really important to me as a resident and as a councillor if elected. An increase in outside dining, outside entertainment spaces to hopefully support and facilitate paid work for local musicians. Perhaps outdoor theatre as well? There are a number of options that can be explored with the local music and performing arts community.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?
I would particularly like to see council address the lack of basic amenities in Geelong’s suburbs. Lack of footpaths, tree coverage, infrastructure in parks and lack of maintenance isn’t good enough. I would like to see local council work with State and Federal governments to address the issue of housing affordability in Geelong, with an increase in public housing in the city as well as affordable higher density housing options closer to the CBD. This would also help curtail the run away urban spread we’re seeing on the outer edges of Geelong and help protect green space and agricultural space as well. Council also needs to play more of a role in address climate change and its impacts on Geelong like increasing tree coverage, providing heat shelters for vulnerable residents who don’t have access to air conditioning, setting clear emission reduction targets.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?
Addressing climate change is the issue of all of our lifetimes. Local council have a role to play so I don’t accept passing the buck to State and Federal Governments. As mentioned above, just some of things council can do in this space is increasing tree coverage, providing heat shelters for vulnerable residents who don’t have access to air conditioning, setting clear emission reduction targets. However there’s a lot more work to be done, and it requires meaningful community consultation.

Okay so, how do we vote?

Victoria’s 2020 local council elections, during the state’s strict coronavirus restrictions, will be conducted by postal vote and will be the largest ever undertaken in Victoria with more than 4.5 million voters enrolled.

Ballot packs containing a ballot paper, statements and photographs supplied by candidates, voting instructions and a reply-paid envelope have been posted to voters on the Electoral Commissioner’s List.
If you live in Victoria, whether you’re a homeowner or renter, you must vote in the council election.
All Votes must be posted by 6pm on Friday, 23 October to be counted.

For more information on the candidates, please visit Victorian Electoral Commission