ONLY three City of Greater Bendigo councillors are members of political parties.
In the run up to October’s council election, the spotlight has fallen on candidates and their political affiliations.
As part of the Bendigo Weekly’s War on Dummies campaign, the focus is also on candidates running tickets at the upcoming election, which will see three councillors from three wards for the first time.
Epsom Ward councillor Lisa Ruffell recently revealed she had re-joined the Liberal Party, after quitting after the 2008 election.
Mayor Alec Sandner is also a member of the Liberal Party, as is Kangaroo Flat Ward councillor Barry Lyons.
No other councillor is a member of a political party.
Cr Sandner said despite their membership, party politics played no part in the current council.
“The council we have at the moment is apolitical,” he said.
At least three councillors who are not members of political parties came out strongly against the idea of party politics in council.
“Don’t see room for party politics in local government. I never have and never will,” Sandhurst Ward councillor James Reade said.
Strathfieldsaye Ward councillor Keith Reynard has a Greens streak about him, but was strongly against becoming a member.
“I have never been a member of a political party and I never will be,” he said.
North West Plains Ward councillor Bruce Phillips spent a large amount of his working life in the public service.
“I have never been a member of a political party and I am completely against the idea,” he said.
Eaglehawk Ward councillor Peter Cox said next week should herald the start of the unofficial council election campaign.
Cr Cox said with a candidate’s information session on Tuesday, and the draft budget handed down on Wednesday, candidates should start getting their ideas out.
“There is a month to comment on the budget before it is approved,” he said.
“Any potential candidate should be able to read the budget and comment about what changes they would make.
“That will be a great debate over the next month.
Fears the City of Greater Bendigo council could again be made up purely of Bendigonians has seen the first non-councillor candidate come forward.
Heathcote newsagent Wayne McKay is to run in October’s elections.
Mr McKay said he fears the redistribution of wards (which resulted in more Bendigo voters on the Heathcote-based Eppalock Ward) would result in all councillors from Bendigo for the second year in a row. He said that was part of his reason for running.