‘Vested interest not declared’

Cr John Chester, who is seeking a second four-year term in the South East ward, took aim at prominent property businessman and Central ward candidate Russell Poliwka who has dismissed the allegation.

Cr Chester linked Mr Poliwka, a vice-president of the Joondalup Business Association, to former JBA member Teresa Ritchie and sitting member and Poliwka employee Yadi Gibson.

Cr Ritchie is challenging incumbent Troy Pickard for mayor and Ms Gibson is in a three-candidate race for one vacancy in Cr Chester’s ward.

‘That’s looking like block voting to me,’ Cr Chester said before adding he did not have a problem with JBA chief executive Clive Haddow running in the South West ward as a community representative because he had declared his job role in his election profile.

Mr Poliwka denied running what he called a ‘cartel’ and in defence of his employee contesting the election, said ‘she’s got to work somewhere’. As Mr Poliwka declared when he ran for the same ward two years ago, he was running as an individual and not as the JBA.

‘John must be panicking,’ he said.

Mr Poliwka said Cr Ritchie would make a good mayor. Of his own election bid, he said he ‘would love to be there to get the ratepayer’s voice across’.

‘But I’m sure they (any detractors) will have a concerted effort against me,’ he said.

Cr Chester was deputy mayor in 2011-12 and has been instrumental in retaining an area of Kingsley Park.

‘The community reasonably expects councils to make independent decisions free of vested interests,’ he said.

‘Business organisations or pressure groups fielding multiple candidates in wards should be a cause for concern.’

John Curtin Institute of Public Policy executive director John Phillimore said he could not comment directly on the City of Joondalup election as he was not familiar with all of the issues and candidates.

‘Transparency is a good thing,’ he said. ‘People have a right to know who they’re voting for and if candidates are effectively running as a group,’ he said.

‘But it’s not unheard of for groups of individuals to run in individual wards and you find out later that they are basically on the same side. It’s the job of both the media and their opponents to say well actually this person and that person and that person are actually running as a team.’