Comparing local government candidates can be difficult because, in comparison to state or federal elections, it’s harder to find differences between the policies of each candidate – if they have policies at all. Take a look at the ALP’s ‘policy’ platform for Darebin as an example —
– The health of our community,
– Securing jobs and sustainable economic developments to stimulate the economy in Darebin,
– Responsible council rates,
– Easing of parking restrictions,
– Human rights and equality,
– Good governance,
– Action on climate change to ensure our community will prosper into the future.
There are very few non-ALP candidates standing in Darebin who aren’t campaigning on similar ideas. In other local government areas that aren’t as left-leaning as Darebin is, the ALP just doesn’t emphasise the human rights and climate change part. The Greens and the Victorian Socialists also struggle to differentiate themselves from a lot of the other candidates at a party level, promising things that most agree on or are already council policy.
This is a long-winded disclaimer for the fact that I’m maybe less impartial than normal in this write-up than I normally am as I feel the need to get into some judgment of individual people’s character and politics in order to set them apart from each other. Plus, there’s properly good socialist candidates running and it’s very difficult for me not to just harp on that they’ll be good. These are my opinions please don’t sue me for libel, cheers.
For Darebin, I should briefly mention the dynamic of the ALP, the Greens and the Victorian Socialists, the three most active parties in this area this year. The Greens have had control of Darebin Council this last term and have moved it towards progressive action like subsidising solar panel installs, changing waste and recycling programs, declaring a climate emergency, and so on. Vic Socialists seem to broadly agree with this direction but criticise the programs as being too middle-class and want to go further in using Council as a means to effect political and cultural change. The ALP are going the other direction, campaigning on improving service provision and emphasising climate a bit less. They aren’t directly criticising any of the programs the Greens have effected but are emphasising that more attention needs to be paid to ‘getting the basics right’ like parking and bins and so on, with most candidates not being too specific about what needs to change. I’ve mostly just named people as ‘Greens candidate’ and left it at that unless I know more about them, it’s not to dismiss candidates from the 3 parties but just to avoid writing the same thing about their party 9 times. I’m confident you can make your own mind up about the parties you’ve actually heard of. VS are socialists, the Greens are the Greens, the ALP are mostly Left faction Labor people. You get it.
The new single-councillor wards (bad policy, hate it) in some LGAs mean that it’s harder to do big write-ups. This page covers the south side of Darebin, some of Moreland and maybe some of Yarra. If you want my take on stuff in the next couple of days let me know, I didn’t do any other areas because no one asked me to. Actually no one asked me to do most of this I just have a lot of time on my hands. How’re you going?
DAREBIN SOUTH EAST WARD
ALP candidate from the Socialist Left faction. Dimitriadas is a human rights lawyer working with refugees and also a pharmacist – I mention this because it suggests someone who is genuinely community-minded. I don’t know of any ways she stands apart from ALP policy but she seems very nice?
Victorian Socialists candidate.
Philip David Sutton
Centre-left independent candidate. A well-regarded climate activist active in the space for ~30 years and was part of Climate Emergency Darebin. Lots of experience with public service and committees. Has a focus on transitioning to a sustainable economy.
Previously served as a Liberal councillor in Darebin. Caused controversy by both-siding the issue of Indigenous genocide regarding a proposed monument. Ultimately got sacked for calling the Local Government Minister ‘fat’ on Facebook. Stunned he’s still around, to be honest.
DAREBIN SOUTH WARD
Galbally is an independent candidate who is perhaps Left or centre-Left. Wants council to allow free footpath and carpark trading as part of COVID recovery.
ALP candidate from the Socialist Left faction. Lawry is one of the better ALP candidates in that she has plenty of ideas outside of the party’s policy platitudes and has plenty of experience with government, having worked for the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet during the Rudd/Gillard years. Still a bit vague on actual actions she wants to take but so are most candidates.
A progressive centre-left independent candidate. Morris-Dalton has good policies on climate and a focus on engaging and representing youth in Darebin. Local lad, I wanted to hate him because he’s 23 or something ridiculous but it turns out he’s a good candidate. For example, he talks about reviving local business post-COVID (like everyone) but by doing it with a program to get artists and hospo workers (i.e. predominately young people disproportionately impacted by the crisis) back into work in the local area.
Victorian Socialists candidate. Ward is an academic at RMIT and has been a union and climate activist for decades.
DAREBIN SOUTH CENTRAL WARD
An centre-Left independent candidate, Rennie is the current Mayor of Darebin. She was elected on an anti-pokies platform and has made a fair impact in Darebin in that area. Rennie has led a progressive council since 2016 with much more transparency than the organisation had previously. Very experienced with local governance law.
I’m fairly sure this guy is a feeder candidate, just running to funnel preferences to an ALP candidate (as he did in 2016).
Right-wing independent candidate. Her focus is on supporting small businesses in the area.
Not sure if Verma is backed by the ALP this election – he was in 2016. It’s hard to find anything new about him in 2020 because he generated so many headlines last time, getting accused of dirty tactics (such as using a photo of an opponent’s child in political material) and making a mistake in the numbering of his How To Vote card that would have invalidated the ballot if anyone followed it. Can’t imagine him being a compelling candidate but he’s spent a lot on posters.
Roz Ward is a Victorian Socialists candidate, and probably the most high profile one. Ward is an academic, the co-founder of the Safe Schools Coalition and an LGBTI activist. Named as Andrew Bolt’s least favourite person, 2017.
Harriet De Kok
Greens candidate, one of the more progressive ones.
Independent candidate. Has more of a focus on diversity, promoting multiculturalism and anti-racism than other candidates. I’m not clear where she sits politically but is somewhere around the centre, I suspect.
ALP candidate from the Socialist Left faction. Works in disability service provision and wants to improve the NDIS (which I doubt will come up as an issue for council but it’s a nice ideal). Heavy focus on service provision.
DAREBIN SOUTH WEST WARD
Victorian Socialists candidate. Hogg was the convenor of Equal Love, the activist wing of the Marriage Equality movement.
Greens candidate and incumbent councillor. I think McCarthy is a bit more conservative than some of the other Greens in this area. Often takes the ‘let’s be pragmatic about what we can achieve here’ side in Council debates (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) and comes from the career-politician side of the Greens rather than the activist side. McCarthy has a reputation for playing dirty politics inside the Greens, but as a councillor he has managed to get a lot done.
ALP candidate. Union official and conservationist. Has a focus on improving the standard of new housing constructed in Darebin, pushing back against property developers on quality requirements, parking and green space via community action groups.
Archibald Alan Maclean
Maclean is a candidate running for the Liberal Democrats, a libertarian party. They believe in limiting the role of government and lowering taxes. I always find it weird when someone tries to get a job that they don’t believe in. He also doesn’t appear to believe in having a website. One of his major policy points is that Council meetings should be livestreamed, something they’ve been doing for more than 2 years.
A properly unhinged candidate and serial pest. Spends his days calling people ‘Femmo nazis’ on the internet. Has awful views on women, gay people, and doesn’t believe in climate change. Has a vendetta against the current council after he was arrested for disrupting meetings. Has a vendetta against McCarthy for his role in bullying Alex Bhathal out of the Greens, but also hates the Greens. On the one hand he actually has a couple of policies I like, but on the other he’s a dangerous, hateful bastard, so that gets cancelled out pretty quickly.
Founder of Save the Planet party. Ex-footballer. Broadly Left wing but action on climate is very much his focus. Weirdly he’s running as part of the ALP’s Right faction.
MORELAND SOUTH WARD
Candidates for Sue Bolton’s Moreland Team, a group of Socialist Alliance members (like Andrewartha) and other independent candidates (like Galvin) with a focus on improving infrastructure with the aim of helping vulnerable residents, e.g. food banks and more green spaces and public transport. Galvin is a community activist who has participated in campaigns in the area like the ones to stop the East-West tunnel and to stop the destruction of Gandolfo Gardens near Moreland station. Bolton herself has served on Moreland council for two terms but is running in a different ward to this one.
Helen Breier Labor Left
Shirley Jackson Labor Left
Lambros Tapinos Labor Right
ALP candidates. Tapinos is an incumbent councillor. As always the ALP order their ticket the reverse to how I’d like it: Right-wing blokes, then Left-wing blokes, then anyone who is a woman. I’ve swapped it here cause fuck ’em.
Right-wing Independent candidate with a focus on supporting women and better community consultation. Wants improved service provision and enforcing regulation on construction sites.
Reason candidate. Progressive, maybe centre-Left or centre. Advocates strongly for small business & community support.
Victorian Socialists candidate.
Right-wing Independent candidate with a focus on supporting small business, improving access to commercial centres like Sydney Rd, and upgrading community sport, education & leisure facilities.
Left-wing Independent candidate with a focus on sustainable development and improving public transport.
Durkacz is a centre-left Independent, an advocate for greater transparency in Council and blames the major parties for many of the problems in Council. A cranky old lefty who runs Brunswick News Network. Not here to make friends.
Right-wing Independent candidate with a focus on sustainable development and better management of Council’s budget.
Centre-right Independent candidate. Broadly liberal on a lot of social issues.
MORELAND NORTH EAST WARD
Socialist Left. Bolton has been on council since 2012 on a Socialist Alliance ticket but seems to be distancing herself a bit in order to build a wider coalition with activists outside of Socialist Alliance or the broader socialist movement. Bolton’s campaign platform stands out by focusing not just on post-COVID cost of living pressures (she didn’t even say business!) but on social justice and defending the rights of residents as well. I have a soft spot for Bolton because I’ve watched a lot of council meetings and know that a) she’s genuinely passionate about her issues, and b) she drives the rest of the councillors insane. She doesn’t win every battle but she’s a committed activist who can collaborate to progress policy. Her running partner Street seems cut from the same cloth.
ALP candidates, all of whom are young, progressive women.
Centrist Independent. I read Clarke’s main campaign approach to be that the Council has made a lot of bad decisions lately and needs to go back to getting better data and community consultation. Clarke also wants better service delivery, support for businesses, and support for the disadvantaged, youth and elderly.
Centrist Independent, leaning slightly Left. Maybe in a city other than Moreland he’d be left-wing. As it is, Dhedhy has policies around improving and increasing public amenities (footpaths, parks, leisure centres, etc.), improving council services especially disability access, and leading a COVID-19 revival with support for business and a food bank. He’s got a particular focus on supporting youth, including wanting council infrastructure projects to employ a quota of 10% young people.
I can’t find out much about this guy’s politics other than that he describes himself as a progressive and is preferencing the ALP so he’s probably centre-Left somewhere. Elachkar identifies as an Australian-Muslim with Lebanese heritage and is very much pitching himself as a candidate to represent that community – it’s a shame because he seems like a genuinely engaging candidate that I can’t find much out about because he’s relying on already being well known to those he’s trying to get to vote for him. I suspect he’ll end up basically just feeding preferences to the ALP.
Paul Paolo Failla
Right-wing Independent candidate. Failla is a real estate agent who wants to “clean up” Moreland, ensuring hygiene in public toilets, fixing potholes and cleaning the malls(?). He also wants better facilities for elderly citizens. Last election he railed against Moreland’s sustainable energy policy.
Right-wing Independent. This candidate doesn’t have any web presence at all. Her focus is on business recovery.
Glover is the Reason candidate and is on the more progressive side of that party. She wants Council to be more proactive and less punitive. Her focus is on gender equity, transparency, and better aged care.
Helou is an Independent candidate – his policies suggest centre-Left but I’d say he’s really centre-Right. He’s a former mayor of Moreland and ran on an ALP ticket in the last two elections making a point of saying that Independents couldn’t be trusted – this election he’s an Independent himself. He’s got lots and lots of policies for improving various Council services but is largely campaigning on his record of being a councillor for several terms and the projects that were completed by Council in that period. Those of us who pay attention to this sort of thing remember him as a petty factional player in the ALP who as Mayor sold a council park for a pittance to an organisation of which he was president. He reminds me a bit of Brian Sanaghan in Darebin in that I suspect his actual two main policies are “power” and “revenge”.
Lynton Michael Joseph
Centre-left? Deeply involved with many, many charitable causes and a part-time Elvis impersonator. Certainly he’s socially progressive as he’s signed the Rainbow Pledge and says he advocates for a non-discriminative society, but I wouldn’t call him a Lefty. One of his pamphlets says it’s “about time an Elvis Tribute Artist became a Councillor” and honestly that’s a better pitch than most of the ones I’ve read.
Naim is an Independent candidate and a practicing GP in Coburg. I could tell you about his politics but in the course of researching him I found that he was suspended for performing an unnecessary and invasive medical procedure on a female patient, so I reckon we’re fucking done here, yeah?
Dean Norman O’Callaghan
Independent for Climate Emergency Action. O’Callaghan’s politics are all about how Council can respond to the climate emergency but, unfortunately, on a personal level Deano is a gross dickweed. So that’s a shame. It’s like the Jolly dilemma, where the politics are decent but at the end of the day someone’s actually going to have to work with them and that person might be a woman. If you want climate action maybe vote for just about anyone else in this ward instead.
Centrist Independent. This candidate doesn’t really have any policies that set her out from the rest – better transport, improve parks, fix pot holes, etc. but seems to know what she’s talking about and is an okay candidate if you want someone in the Centre of politics.
Pulford is the Greens candidate in this ward (not sure why they’d only run one in a ward in Moreland of all places). Has standard Greens views and is from the career politician wing of the Greens as opposed to the activist wing.
Right-wing Independent. The Council is corrupt, it’s a conspiracy, the Greens should go to prison. Hates the ‘Left-wing extremists’ in Council but most of his policies are further to the Left than the actual socialists running in this election. Why does every jurisdiction have exactly one of these dudes? Timpano has four Facebook pages for some reason, and one of them is called ‘Francesco Timpano Thinker Politician & Architect to the Very Rich & Worthy’, which was made by him and isn’t a joke, that’s just how he writes all of the time. Timpano has repeatedly said that global warming is a scam, and wears a beret.
Muhammad Nisar Ul Murtaza
Left-wing Independent candidate. Ul Murtaza only arrived in Australia seven years ago and has been very busy getting involved with community groups and is on Moreland’s Human Right Committee. He’s advocating for improving social cohesion, promoting sport for young people, climate action, and better childcare. What caught my attention from Ul Murtaza was a video where he explains that, like all natural disasters, the severity of the COVID-19 crisis has been exacerbated by systemic disadvantage created by public policy, social structure, and inequality of access, opportunity and resources. Normally this kind of talk gets you labelled a communist but judging from the How To Vote cards everyone kind of loves this guy, even the conservative Independents.
YARRA LANGRIDGE WARD
Matoc Mordecai Achol
Achol is an Independent candidate, though he has previously run for the Greens. He’s been heavily involved in community groups supporting public housing residents and the migrant community as a believer in grassroots action to build community from the bottom up. Originally from South Sudan, he wants to be the first African to be elected to Council.
Liberal Party candidate. Bae wants the Walmer Street Bridge project expedited and to have the Medically Supervised Injecting Room relocated from its current site in Richmond.
Cowen is the candidate for Reason. He wants to improve community engagement by using digital platforms, upgrade public amenities like parks and sport facilities, and expand car-share and EV charging programs. I like the idea of getting a young queer candidate but I think this guy might be a little too green this time round.
Gabrielle de Vietri
Greens candidates. Quite progressive, as you’d expect in this district. De Vietri comes from an arts background and wants to help casualised workers and Mohamud has a focus on providing support for public housing residents and Yarra’s multicultural communities.
Douglas is a centre-Left ALP candidate and President of the Victorian Labor LGBTI Affairs Policy Committee. Payne is also involved in that area and they both come from a union background.
An Independent candidate, centre-Right on business issues I think but progressive on social policy. Has a loose alliance with Stephen Jolly so maybe he’s further Left than he appears to me on paper. Glynatsis has a focus on supporting local business in COVID recovery, protecting heritage in Yarra’s streets and maintaining service provision.
Left-wing Independent candidate. Hude says he is not a candidate who will campaign on a limited number of policies, which makes it hard for someone who might be trying to summarise what he’s campaigning on and is now wasting a sentence complaining about it. He claims to have a focus on improving transport, community services and our stewardship of natural resources but is broadly progressive on most council issues that I’ve heard him speak about.
Jolly is an Independent socialist candidate and a divisive figure. I don’t know if I can talk about him impartially – he’s been an exemplary councillor in many ways, constantly meeting with residents in his ward and taking his lead from them to push populist policies to benefit marginalised people, but he’s also been the focus of scandal and abuse complaints, one of which saw him booted from the Victorian Socialists last year despite having helped found it. I’ve interacted personally with him and some of those encounters I’ve found distasteful. I’m glad I don’t have to make a decision on how to vote for him – good luck, sorry I can’t help you more with this one. Jolly’s policy platform this election is to increase support for public housing residents and build more public housing, change the planning scheme entirely but particularly to require large developments to use renewable energy, and for Yarra to reinstate a bunch of progressive policies that they discarded this year at budget time.
Tran is an Independent candidate, the President of the Atherton Gardens Residents Association (Atherton Gardens are the Gertrude St public housing towers). He advocates for support for those in financial hardship, protection and improvement of public amenities like parks, affordable childcare options and support for those suffering homelessness or struggling to keep housing.
MARIBYRNONG YARRAVILLE WARD
Centre-right candidate and Liberal member. Relatively progressive for someone on the Right as far as I can tell – wants to decrease organic waste going to landfill and invest more in public libraries, her conservatism is more closely linked to some NIMBYism (popular on all sides at Council elections) and a focus on supporting business.
Centre-Left candidate. Socially progressive but her focus is mostly monetary, writes a lot on the allocation of rate funds.
Martin Zakharov (incumbent)
Simon Crawford (incumbent)
Jorge Andres Jorquera
Victorian Socialists candidate.
Paul Nam Le
Right-wing Independent candidate. Has an anti-crime platform and wants to stimulate Maribyrnong’s economy with more large sporting events and jobs.
Independent candidate, perhaps centre-Left. Nguyen’s focus is almost entirely on COVID recovery, moving events and business outdoors and increasing green spaces.
Centre-Right Independent candidate. Nguyen wants Council to fund more activities and sports programs for children.
Left-wing Independent candidate. Parades strikes me as a man of religious conviction who feels compelled to conduct charitable works and as a result has been heavily involved in multicultural community groups. He’s also a proud Freemason, which you don’t see often in a candidate. I suspect his politics might be closer to the socialists than the ALP in practice. He speaks like a bible, spelled his own name wrong on a candidate survey, and his How To Vote card includes the text, “If I cannot reach you with my arms, I will just hug you with my prayers.”
Centre-Left Independent. A bit left of Labor with more progressive climate politics.
Centrist Independent candidate with very little online presence. Anyone’s guess.
Centrist Independent candidate. Relatively socially progressive with a community outlook. Focus on council finances and trimming the fat from the budget.
Independent candidate, formerly from the Australian Progressives. Centrist with a socially progressive bent.