IF you’re not satisfied with your local council you have 47 weeks to do something about it.
There’s just over 10 months until Queenslanders go to the polls. The Palaszczuk Government has brought the local government election date forward a fortnight to March 16 next year, avoiding a clash with the Easter school holidays.
Conversations around who will be running are ramping up and it’s open season on current councillors and their performance.
I love the speculation; will she or won’t she run for Mayor? Will he or won’t he finally retire?
I’ve covered more than a dozen local, state and federal elections and have found the battle for council can be particularly brutal and bizarre.
It’s often deeply personal and can turn ugly, fast.
Who could forget the 2021 Rockhampton mayoral by-election? A Melbourne Cup-like field of 17 candidates included a barefoot bloke named ‘Pineapple’.
Then there’s the niche policy platforms, such as cancelling New Year’s Eve fireworks to stop disturbing birds, colour coding street signs so buses don’t get lost and putting a cover on the Crows Nest pool so “we don’t all burn to death”.
To be fair – those three were all from the same candidate.
Ultimately rivalries are laid bare, corflute signs are defaced and more often than not, election day comes and goes and not a whole lot changes.
It’s a great time to be a journalist. But as a ratepayer, parent and concerned citizen, I also have skin in the game when it comes to local government elections in Toowoomba.
I want a council that reflects my community – not the town we used to be, but the vibrant, diverse and exciting region we’re becoming.
But I fear, given the minefield I’ve outlined, many exceptional individuals who are thinking about throwing their hat in the ring right now – will not.
Why risk standing up against the status quo despite obvious dysfunction and disarray?
Why risk the personal attacks and professional backlash from daring to demand better?
Because your community needs you.
Our regions need authentic, brave leadership from all walks of life.
Councils need fresh and diverse perspectives as much as they need experience.
We need team players who can put what’s best for their region ahead of their own egos.
We need councillors who can turn campaign slogans into solutions.
John F Kennedy challenged Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”.
We have 47 weeks – that’s an awfully long time in politics and plenty of time to inspire change.
Run for office or support those with big ideas and untapped potential to take the plunge.
Ask questions, expect answers and make those vying for re-election work for the privilege.
Speak up for incumbents who have done good work and deserve another term – it’s not an easy gig and a little encouragement goes a long way.
Start conversations about what your region needs to truly thrive and be prepared to vote accordingly.
For those still not convinced, I was reporting from Clive Palmer’s campaign headquarters the night he was elected so trust me when I say, anything’s possible – for better or worse.