Reverend targets councillor

UNITING Church minister the Reverend Lance Armstrong has taken the unusual step of distributing an election flyer urging people not to vote for Albury Deputy Mayor Henk van de Ven.

Paid for by 333 people with similar views, the flyer does not recommend how the city’s 33,000 electors should cast votes on Saturday, except that they should vote below the line.

Among other things, it accuses Cr van de Ven of “forceful and belligerent behaviour” and mentions a personal attack made in an email on Mrs Ruth Armstrong more than a year ago.

Cr van de Ven said yesterday he thought Mr Armstrong’s action was disgraceful because it came from a minister of religion and was about personalities when elections should be about policy issues.

“I’ve always called a spade a spade and I’m not going to change now,” he said.

But Mr Armstrong, a former Greens MP in Tasmania, was unrepentant about spending more than $2000 to distribute 18,500 flyers across the city.

“Cr van de Ven has still not apologised to Ruth or agreed to meet personally with me,” he said.

The dispute between the pair arose from the public debate in July and August last year over Fromholtz Park and the occasional child-care centre that is now being built there.

In May this year, Mr Armstrong attended the infamous “kangaroo council” when Cr Paul Wareham’s supporters placed an inflatable toy on the council table.

At that meeting, Mr Armstrong called Cr van de Ven a “weakling” after he commented on a written submission from the minister.

Mr Armstrong said yesterday he would vote No.1 for Cr Wareham on Saturday and hoped that Cr van de Ven would not benefit from other people’s preferences.

Cr Amanda Duncan-Strelec’s group is the only one to swap preferences with the van de Ven group, which placed Craig Taylor as No.2.

Mr Armstrong said he had been impressed with Mr Taylor’s credentials, “but I think Craig made an error of judgement going on Henk’s ticket”.

- Editorial — page 14

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