Building momentum

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 13-Oct-2017

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Next week, greater Bendigo’s nine elected councillors face arguably the toughest decision they’ve had to make since they were elected 12 months ago – choosing who will lead them, and our city, for the next 12 months.

Once that’s sorted, attention will inevitably turn to the selection of the next chief executive officer, having opted to advertise the position held by Craig Niemann for almost a decade.

Then, there’s the next state election, which is just 13 months away, and it’s not unrealistic to suggest that the handing down of the state budget in May signifies the start of the unofficial campaign towards what is expected to be an extremely close and tight election on Saturday, November 24, 2018.

While both Jacinta Allan and Maree Edwards hold their respective seats of Bendigo East and Bendigo West by a reasonable margin, no one ever takes elections in Bendigo for granted, and nor should they. 

Incumbent Margaret O’Rourke faces a tough predicament come Monday’s expected vote. 

No other councillor has ever served two consecutive terms as mayor, and Cr O’Rourke will be battling history, as well as another worthy candidate for the coveted role of mayor.

The philosophical approach that says Bendigo should simply rotate the mayoral position so that four enthusiastic councillors all get the chance to lead our city over the duration of their tenure lacks substance.

It should only ever be about who of those eligible councillors is the best person to lead, but in fairness to everyone involved, that’s not an easy assessment to make when some contenders may not have had the chance to display their leadership credentials.

And just as it’s much easier said than done to try and decipher who can lead, when not everyone has had the chance to display their leadership wares, the fact that someone has already led should never be a circumstance that disqualifies them from being able to do the job again. 

This mayoral election is crucial for Bendigo, arguably more so than any other in a very long time.

One of the current group of councillors’ greatest strengths has been the unity and discipline they have exhibited during the first year of their tenure.

It’s been a building block towards hopefully greater things in the next few years as Bendigo looks to maintain the considerable momentum we’ve established over a decade, and to cement this city’s reputation as Australia’s most liveable regional city, as a smart city and as the place those of us lucky enough to live here can continue to be immensely proud of. 

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