10 QUESTIONS WITH GEOFF DINGLE – Port Stephens Mayoral Candidate
August 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm
1. What led you to run for Mayor?
This will be the first time PS has had a popularly elected Mayor. I believe I have the leadership and communication skills combined with the management background to take Port Stephens forward. I have the time and the energy to do a good job and will do it without fear or favour.
2. This will be the first time the Mayor has been popularly elected in Port Stephens, why do you think the change was needed and how will it affect your chances?
There are potential plus and minuses with a popularly elected mayor. It is important our first mayor can show respect to all Councillors that they are free of the shackles for potential to have pecuniary interests associated with property ownership and development conflicts. Residents have voted in the last LG election to support the election of popularly elected Mayor, the decision is in the hand of the voters.
3. Will it be beneficial for council and Port Stephens to now have a four year term for council?
A four year term of Council is already standard term and I have now been on this council for a total of two four years terms.
4. You have spent time as a councillor, how will that experience help you if elected as Mayor?
It is important you understand policies of meeting procedure and the processes involved in correct process for dealing with development and general items which come before council. A good knowledge of the Acts which influences Council procedure such as the Local Government Act, Planning and Assessment also assists greatly. Any candidate who lacked background as Councillors would find it very difficult and extremely steep learning curve to operate as an effective mayor.
5. Port Stephens was the first to live stream council meetings, did you support that move and will it help the public make their vote now that the Mayor is now popularly elected?
I did support the web casting of meetings which currently only covers Council meetings and not Committee meetings. I believe it is great step forward in making Council meetings and Councillor Behaviour transparent and Councillors accountable to their constituents.
6. What would be your main priority if elected?
The ensure we started to communicate regularly through workshops, something sadly missing in the last term of Council with not one single formal workshop held on four years of this council. To treat all Councillors with equal respect and equal access to participate in all events something which again did not occur previously. To minimise the use of the casting vote, this option used all too frequently as part of a voting bloc in the first two years.
7. What is your biggest challenge in winning this election?
Allocating the resources required to man 27 booths, get thousands of leaflets out to ratepayers and get the message across to ratepayers on minimal budget as a self-funded retiree, relying on dozens of volunteers support. Competing with other candidates who can afford to throw unlimited financial resources at the campaign and pay for the manpower required to swamp the campaign.
8. Why should rate payers have faith in you?
My track record in the community says it all, I have been a Scout leader for over 30 years and awarded one of its highest honours, the silver emu award, the chair of our community centre committee the most successful facility in Port Stephens for over 25 years, successfully run my own business for 18 years. Active in the local Tidy Towns committee, a member of Hunter regional Botanic gardens and I can point to the achievement I have made on council including, completion of the Medowie strategy, an active member of a number of Council and associated committees: Chair of the Koala Plan of management Committee, a regular member of Council’s traffic committee. I am on record as having the best meeting attendance over past two terms of any Councillor. An active participant in kick starting the Health One facility in Raymond Terrace now supported by State and Federal funding.
9. How would you rate the performance of the current council and what would you change?
For the first two years under the leadership of Cr Mackenzie very poor, I was instrumental in having the DLG investigate Port Stephens council and this resulted in 36 recommendations for attention, 24 considered serious. The financial performance of the council is poor with excessive deficits, some extremely poor performing assets and legal costs exceeding equivalent sized Councils many times over. I would off load Samurai resort which has cost this Council $17 million over the past 8 years, insist that negotiation replaces vexatious litigation. That an independent panel be formed to assess any codes of conduct items before recommending investigation, that plans are prepared for longer term replacement and upgrade of community facilities notably children’s playgrounds community centres and sport amenities. That we carry out total review of our position with road maintenance and prepare a strategy for sustainable maintenance funding of longer term maintenance requiring a submission to the State infrastructure committee. That we change the methodology for drainage maintenance shifting to a sustainable environment model rather than the current slash and burn technique. That we complete community planning strategies adding infrastructure strategies as an integral part of the overall planning process. That we hold meetings on specific proposed development and rezoning applications involving all councillors not a selective few.
10. How do you rate your chances of winning the election?
Since I am running alone with no preferences between another candidates, this depends on the mood of the electorate. Having recently seen Council loose $500,000 in a case involving the Stockton Bight Track associated with Cr Mackenzie’s sand mining DA for lot 218 in case involving compulsory acquisition of land I hope the residents and ratepayers start to understand the need for change. An effective Mayor must be free of the association shackles that they are seeking more than just looking after the interest of the ratepayers. I rate my chances as 50:50.
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