VICTORIAN council ballots will still proceed in October despite protests that it would be unfair to stage them, given COVID-19 restrictions.
The Municipal Association of Victoria president Coral Ross, a councillor in Melbourne, called for the elections to be delayed for a year following the government declaring a State of Disaster on Sunday.
She pointed to the 2020 Local Government Act which specifies the minister can use such a declaration as a reason to postpone votes.
But Local Government Minister Shaun Leane has indicated that it is safe to stage the elections, based on current health advice, and it is important to ensure ratepayers have the opportunity to exercise their democratic rights.
IN OTHER NEWS:
He told a hook-up last week of mayors from across the state that the October 24 election day would be held.
On Monday a government spokeswoman said: "Victorians have the right to a democratic say on who represents them at all levels of government.
"We will continue to take advice from the CHO (chief health officer) to ensure the elections can be held safely."
The Victorian Electoral Commission is developing a COVID-safe plan for the ballot.
Cr Ross said although it was a postal vote there were still safety concerns for electoral commission workers, posties and scrutineers.
She added "democracy is not being served because you're not going to meet candidates, you're getting something banal if it's just by the post" in terms of information for electors.
Fellow MAV board member and Alpine Shire councillor Ron Janas said he was "really undecided" about whether the elections should occur in October.
"Being an incumbent you have an advantage there if you're doing the job OK, but for someone new, trying to get in, it's going to be difficult," Cr Janas said.
Indigo Shire mayor and Rural Councils of Victoria deputy chair Jenny O'Connor said her organisation had also joined MAV in seeking to have the elections delayed.
She shared the concerns of Cr Ross and Cr Janas over newcomers being impaired but also noted it was "not a black and white issue".
Cr O'Connor pointed to Victoria being a "democracy and after four years it's reasonable that people have the opportunity to change their councillors".
Greens candidate for Wodonga council Rupinder Kaur said she accepted the unusual situation.
"It's a learning curve but you have to follow these restrictions," Ms Kaur said.
"We will not be able to do doorknocking which is a really sad part and we've tried to be active on social media and I'm trying to ring people and address issues by email."
Former Wodonga Chamber of Commerce business manager Bernie Squire is contemplating running for the city's council.
"It would definitely be a unique sort of campaign with all the restrictions that are on us and you don't know what you don't know, you can make a decision today and all the rules can change tomorrow," Mr Squire said.