Our say | Not all council candidates are created equal

AND now the fun really begins.

When nominations for the Bathurst Regional Council election closed on Wednesday, 40 candidates had thrown their hats into the ring.

Five of them are currently sitting on council, one was elected in 2012 but resigned to pursue a federal dream, a couple are regulars in the public gallery at council meetings and many of them have never set foot inside the council chambers.

Whatever their backgrounds, though, they have all put their hand up for the honour of serving our great city and we should thank them for that.

While many council areas struggled to find enough candidates to run an election, Bathurst has enough names on the ballot to fill the nine available positions several times over, and that competition must be a good thing. Having said that, though, many of the names on the ballot have no real hope of actually becoming a councillor.

An unprecedented seven tickets have nominated for this election and those tickets account for 36 of the candidates. But it would take something of an electoral miracle for any candidate at number three or below on their ticket to actually win one of the nine available seats, so we can virtually discount the chances of 22 names straight away.

That’s a real shame, particularly given the strength of some of the candidates who fill those lower spots on the tickets. But it’s also an indication of how the presence of tickets can dramatically skew the electoral results.

Many of the candidates in those lower ticket positions must have seriously considered making a solo run at council but such is the fear surrounding the strength of the ticket voting [which, it must be said, is largely reflective of a lazy and disinterested constituency more interested in a quick vote than a responsible vote] that they were not confident enough to stand alone.

Just four candidates will contest this campaign without the support of an above-the-line ticket and they should be applauded for that decision.

Ticket voting might be a standard tactic within our democracy but its place in local government elections must be seriously questioned.

Council nominees should be forced to campaign on their own strengths and merits rather than cling to the coat-tails of a bigger name candidate.

But you won’t see many of the current batch of candidates pushing for that simple change. No more than four, we’d guess.

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