Council stalwart’s thoughts on future local governemnt elections

Bill Stewart and wife Penny at Waterman’s Bay. Picture: Kate Leaver
Bill Stewart and wife Penny at Waterman’s Bay. Picture: Kate Leaver

LONG-serving City of Stirling Coastal ward councillor Bill Stewart, who lost his seat in the October elections, says major local government reform is needed.

Mr Stewart was on the council since 1996 and said several challenges faced the community.

“The planning process and development outcomes with the State Government’s Joint Development Assessment Panels (JDAP) have left residential communities isolated and with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness,” Mr Stewart said.

He said he believed allowing electors to vote for the mayor, rather than councillors, was a better system.

“I’ve consistently championed, pursued and presented motions for the mayor to be elected by the people. I think that’s a far more democratic process.

“If we elected the mayor directly it would create more representation from the community as opposed to representation within the council.”

Mr Stewart said the Local Government Act was in need of reform to ensure local authorities were better placed to determine all senior positions beyond the chief executive position.

Mr Stewart said he appreciated the opportunity to represent the community over the past 20 years.

“I acknowledge the many community volunteers who give countless hours of support either through sporting clubs, support groups, ratepayer bodies and environmental organisations as these individuals make such a positive contribution to the community,” he said.

Mr Stewart said he was proud of the many projects he had worked on from local footpaths to public infrastructure upgrades in partnership at Scarborough Beach.

Mr Stewart thanked his wife Penny for supporting him as a councillor over the years. “We both approached public life as a team with a clear focus on service, being accessible and open, supporting those groups that are genuinely committed to the community,” he said.

Mr Stewart said it was too early to say if he would run for council in the next election but would continue his work as a teacher.

Stirling Mayor Giovanni Italiano said he thanked Mr Stewart for his work with the council over many years.

“I do thank him for all that he’s done for the City of Stirling and the community; he’s done a good job,” Cr Italiano said.