Marriage celebrant and nurse Karen Kunzelmann who will be running for council in the March 2020 local government elections.
Marriage celebrant and nurse Karen Kunzelmann who will be running for council in the March 2020 local government elections.

Residents concerned with councillor responsibilities

RESIDENTS are concerned councillors will not be able to go straight to operational groups within the council to fix local problems.

Division 4 council candidate Kate Kunzelmann said many residents are concerned with the process, which previous councillors flouted.

The new The Candidate Guide for Ipswich City Council, issued by the council earlier this month clearly outlines councillors as a 'strategic' role opposed to an 'operational' role.

"This is a reminder that councillors have a very wide range of responsibilities, and that decisions must be made with regard to the benefit of the entire local government area," Ms Kunzelmann said.

"There are clear pathways for works to be accomplished and complaints to be made. This involves clear rules for the interaction of councillors and council staff.

But she lamented that residents are uncomfortable with the correct procedures.

"It is clear that many residents are uncomfortable with the idea that they cannot go straight to their councillor for all matters, and that there will not be divisional offices in the way that we previously had," she said.

"It is acknowledged that this worked very well for some people and for some previous councillors to accept the kudos for getting things done. It will be difficult for some people to realise that your councillor cannot go straight to an operational group to get things fixed."

Along with councillor and resident interactions, other residents are concerned about rural and urban distributions of resources, she said.

"Candidates need to be prepared to work with this way of doing things, and being able to explain how things can get done … and an obligation to meet the needs of both rural and urban residents in a co-operative and ethical manner," Ms Kunzelmann said.

The Candidate Guide spells out councillor responsibilities as "to provide an essential link between the community and council, understanding and interpreting what the community wants, and representing their views accordingly".

It continues: "To direct residents to the right people at council to help solve issues and to also keep them informed about decisions that may impact them".