Big number of candidates show keen interest in local government in Wodonga and Wangaratta

AND the elections roll on for Border residents.

Off the back of the July federal poll and local government votes in Albury and Greater Hume, the region now swings into campaign mode across North East Victoria.

Nominations to run for councils closed on Tuesday, with postal voting to be undertaken in October.

Interest in Wodonga is at near-record level with 24 hopefuls seeking to fill the seven seats around the Hovell Street council chamber.

The field is the second largest since the city was reformed under the Victorian Government’s council mergers of the 1990s.

Wodonga mayor Anna Speedie attributes the extra interest to the four vacancies on the council with the departures of Eric Kerr, Mark Byatt, Rodney Wangman and Lisa Mahood.

That is certainly a reasonable contention, but it would also be fair to attribute the big number of candidates to a feeling of dissatisfaction with the existing council.

It is apparent a swag of the newcomers taking a shot at being elected believe the council can improve its performance.

Their concerns range from communications with the community to the development of the CBD to the budget position of the city.

The challenge for the candidates is to produce constructive and original ideas to improve the administration of Wodonga.

Voters should be not be rewarding those who simply criticise without providing some solutions which show they have given considered thought to an issue.

In Wangaratta, the election will mark a return to democracy with the city having been managed by government-appointed administrators since October 2013.

Interestingly the number of nominees for council, 19, this time is identical to the 2012 poll.

Julian Fidge is the only member of the council, which was dumped by the Victorian government for in-fighting, to seek a return to power.

To a degree his candidacy forms somewhat of a referendum on the fractured council of 2013.

If he is not re-elected there will be a clean break, but if he is chosen concerns over the city’s running will resurface considering Dr Fidge was central to the past controversy.

We await with interest that contest along with all the North East elections. 

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