NOVEMBER is set to be a blockbuster month for election results.
It may be true that the outcome of the US presidential election will get a little more attention worldwide than the results of the Kingston Council vote, but there will still be plenty of residents keeping a keen eye on the future makeup of local government.
Voting closed for the local government elections last week. Ballots not mailed to the Victorian Electoral Commission by 6pm on 23 October will not be counted.
The results of the Kingston election are due back by 13 November at the latest, and could have widespread ramifications for locals. Guiding the municipality out of the COVID-19 pandemic is set to be a huge test for the new council, and one that will impact a large number of Kingston’s 162,500 residents.
The incumbent council approved a bold five per cent rate cut for residents this year, a move which came at an estimated cost of $6.3 million to council’s budget (“Residents get rate reduction”, The News, 15/7/20). With businesses expected to open up again soon, the next four years promise to be full of uncertainty and opportunity.
A whopping 73 candidates put their hands up for this year’s Kingston Council poll, more than double that of the neighbouring Frankston local government area.
The VEC says that based on the number of ballot packs it had received back by the morning of 23 October, it is expected that this year’s turnout will be higher than it was for the 2016 election.
“The average turnout rate in 2016 was 73 per cent, but based on current return rates, this year’s average is anticipated to be around the 76 per cent mark or higher,” electoral commissioner Warwick Gately said. “The public’s response has been positive overall. Voters have been very responsive and have exceeded expectations with the number of early returns surpassing that in 2016.
“The counting of votes will take place over the next three weeks locally within each council wherever possible.”
Candidates will be vying for 11 seats on the newly expanded council. All incumbent councillors are running for re-election with the exception of Ron Brownlees, who has retired.
If the results go against him on election day, US President Donald Trump has not committed to leaving office peacefully. Thankfully, a slightly calmer transition of power is expected if any incumbent Kingston councillors lose their re-election bids.