Former candidate makes call on next election
I HAVE been asked a few times if I would be a candidate at the upcoming council election, and I have decided not to.
When I ran against the then sitting Andrew Antoniolli in 2016, I had no expectation of winning as it is almost impossible to beat an incumbent candidate.
Mr Antoniolli was elected in 2000 and had 16 years to build up a profile in the community. As far as I am concerned that was his only accomplishment. Prior to nominating for that election, I had been a vocal critic of the council’s appalling management of the CBD and their generally dreadful approach to planning the city. As a business owner, I had been to hundreds of meetings with council over the preceding decade always with the same result – nothing.
After the council bought Ipswich City Square things went from bad to worse. I watched as business after business closed. When my friends lost their businesses too, I was very angry. I was angry at the inaction, the lies and the financial mismanagement, the sheer stupidity of destroying a CBD which had such enormous potential.
So I put my hand up to run. My campaign attacked the council and in particular Mr Antoniolli at every opportunity. At one stage I was asked when I was going to stop being so negative about Mr Antoniolli. My response was that I wanted to hammer him into the ground. I got about 30 per cent of the vote, about what I could have hoped for. As far as I was concerned that was the end of it. It would be four years until the next election and I did not expect to ever be interested again.
About a year later Paul Pisasale resigned as mayor, and in the subsequent mayoral election Mr Antoniolli became mayor. Despite never expecting to be involved again, I found myself as a candidate in the by-election for Division 7.
There has been an enormous change in circumstances since I first ran. We have a former mayor in jail, a former CEO in jail, another former mayor convicted of fraud. The council has been sacked and numerous other charges are waiting to be heard. The revitalisation in the CBD is starting, though at an enormous cost. The council structure has been reformed, guidelines put in place and a lot of bad fruit has been discarded.
I am hopeful that some progressive candidates for the council will win, and that we can elect a mayor who has sound financial management skills.
Thanks to everyone who has supported me in some way over the years, and thanks to all those who politely disagreed.
JIM MCKEE, Coalfalls