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Chances multiply for varied election field

THERE are 126 outcomes possible from a choice of four City of Perth councillors from nine nominees. And each would make for an interesting combination.

Some are spending up to $10,000 on mail-outs and other expenses, while Bill Bradbury and Tony Ransom –  also nominating for lord mayor – are expected to spend little.

All, however, are most definite about what has fuelled their desire for a place at the council table, and are keen to put up a strong case for working with anyone else who gets there.

First-time nominee Vivienne George grew up in North-bridge, starting her formal education at Lake Street Kindergarten and attending Highgate Primary.

Four years ago, Ms George returned to live in a Northbridge apartment, and has become entrenched in community issues.

“I go to council meetings and have attended every AGM for the past four years,” she said.

“I’m not exactly going in blind, and I’m very passionate and committed.”

Ms George is the chair of Safer WA Northbridge, having taken over from supporter and Valentino Cafe owner Bob Smales, who is now vice-chair.

She is also a member of a new business association, the Business Improvement Group of Northbridge, and supports the sinking of the railway between Northbridge and the city, better residential and business parking, and anti-graffiti funding.

Safety, business and residential vibrancy and a clean city are also issues close to her heart, she says.

As with council contenders Max Kay and Rob Butler, Ms George – a secondary school coordinator of a life skills program – claims support from councillors Tess Stroud, Judy McEvoy and Michael Sutherland.

Max Kay also knows Northbridge and the city well but in a far different capacity – as an entertainer and former business cafe and theatre owner.

Andy Stewart’s manager before coming to Perth in 1967, Mr Kay produced and performed shows in his Civic Theatre Restaurant for 25 years.

Disappointed with having to defer his three-program radio commitments with Curtin FM during this campaign, Mr Kay is nonetheless keen to continue in entertainment and the media, while “giving something back”, as a local government councillor.

In 2001 Mr Kay received the Citizen of the Year award in the Arts, Culture and Entertainment category, and was awarded a Legend of Hospitality medal.

This year he added an Order of Australia to his proud collection.

Mr Kay nominated the day nominations opened and has been an active campaigner since last October, phoning, meeting and mailing constituents, and making sure all who are eligible are on the rolls.

Now leasing offices in James Street, Mr Kay says he has no axe to grind, but wants a piece of the action, to be able to converse with the State Government and make decisions that can affect WA’s economy for the good.

Concerning reports of backbiting on council, Mr Kay says that was one issue that made him decide to stand.

“I’m able to pour oil on troubled waters, I’m good with people, and experienced in dealing with hecklers,” Mr Kay said.

He would not be party to any dirty tricks campaigning during the poll and just wanted to get the job done, he said.

If successful, this would include promoting the City of Perth and creating better opportunities for city retailing and shopper parking.

“I think I’m the best value of any councillor standing – I’ve handled 100 staff, I know union issues, have dealt with the problems of life,” Mr Kay said.

“They’ll be getting me cheap.”

Another contender confident of his ability to read the issues is Neil Scott, owner of The Reactor in James Street.

Mr Scott has owned and run the club in its various forms over the past 20 years and has some strong opinions on how to improve Northbridge.

Mr Scott nominated at the last minute, but this was no indication of his level of passion, he claims.

“I’d thought about it, but was pretty busy, until I saw last week that nominations were about to close,” Mr Scott said.

He had been dissatisfied with both City of Perth people and decisions, and had failed to nominate earlier because he had been busy with business.

Mr Scott believes a 1994 decision – at the time he was a Cottesloe councillor – to close James Street to traffic, attracted the “wrong elements” into Northbridge. From then the crime rated had soared, he said.

Packed streets full of vehicles in night entertainment areas in the big cities of the world kept criminals away and added to the buzz, Mr Scott said.

Like Mr Kay, Mr Scott said a vote for him would be a vote for common sense.

While dismissive of other candidates, Mr Scott says he can work with anyone, something he proved while in local government in Cottesloe. There he proved he was his own person, against considerable opposition, in introducing traffic calming and pushing for underground power.

In the mid-80s, Mr Scott took a group of Northbridge businessmen to then Lord Mayor Chas Hopkins – a contender again in this election – to initiate improvements to the streetscape.

Mr Scott believes people are looking for something different, in addition to independence and experience, and this gives him a good chance.

If he gets this chance in council, Mr Scott hopes to achieve a solution to the retail hours debate that will provide an equitable balance with suburban operators.

Also on his agenda is an hours and licensing outcome for entertainment businesses that would both prove fair to different types of venues.

East Perth resident and Perth businesswoman Lisa Scaffidi has renominated, keen to build on her council experience of the past three years, and her daily traversing of all city precincts.

She believes her contribution is complemented by the economic and social issues she confronts as executive director of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.

Ms Scaffidi, a firm believer in community consultation, says this stance, plus a willingness to be available and to analyse the facts on each issue, make her an independent voter on council.

She, too, is keen on a better land and streetscape for the city, the sinking of the rail line through Northbridge, and safety and security.

But quality residential and commercial developments, improved inner-city cultural opportunities, and improved waste solutions also make it on to her list of priorities.

Rather than have council nominees running around making sure particular business people are on the roll, Ms Scaffidi advocates an incentive system for people to maintain their own listing and hence prevent skewed voting.

Rob Butler says what he thinks, according to his supporters.

What he thinks and hopes in this election is that his 10 years on the Subiaco council will spell “proven track record” in voters’ minds.

“And people are looking for change – that’s what I’m hearing,” he says.

Mr Butler is also standing on the platforms of railway sinking safety and security, and city vibrancy, but of particular focus is the promotion of tourist and business investment and the promotion of the Swan River for not only its foreshore potential, but as an increased transport option.

Perth’s use of its river is a poor comparison with that of Brisbane and Melbourne, according to Mr Butler.

“It’s one reason the city is just not taking off,” he said.

“And with three or four foreshore plans gathering dust, even the half-billion dollar convention centre won’t keep the people in the city.

“People love boardwalks.”

Another reason Perth is not taking off is that the malls need to be upgraded to be brought into this century, Mr Butler says, and parking incentives created for inner city shopping in off-peak hours.

Tess Stroud, another female City of Perth councillor to renominate, is going for her third term.

“I’m not yet past my use-by date – I’m fit, healthy and willing, love Perth so much, and I want to follow through on projects,” she said.

Ms Stroud is a local government pioneer – the first female councillor for the West Pilbara Shire during the ’70s, and the only female councillor when the new City of Perth was formed in 1995.

Most of her married life was spent on a north-west sheep station, and Ms Stroud’s early community involvement included CWA, School of the Air and Flying Doctor support.

While very much a city dweller now, she has continued her regional links and is a national director for the Stockman’s Hall of Fame in Queensland.

For this election, she too, is hoping her track record will stand her in good stead, believing one never knows the true level of support “until the day comes”.

Ms Stroud’s record includes being deputy lord mayor for two years, and a member and chair of various committees, including safety and security, Australia Day celebrations, Christmas decorations, budget, employment and parking.

Colleague Janet Davidson is likewise more than ready for a further term, also nominating to be lord mayor.

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