Local government elections: are you in or out?

These chairs will be empty in November. Could one be yours? (Actually these are the old chairs, but the point stands.) Photo: File.
These chairs will be empty in November. Could one be yours? (Actually these are the old chairs, but the point stands.) Photo: File.

Are you in or out?

A lot of vitriol gets aimed at local councils in the streets of our towns, at our dining tables and in the pages of this newspaper, and rightly so in some cases.

That passion is great – it's what makes a community a community and shows we care about each other and the places we live.

But there comes a point every four years when each of us has to decide: are we going to take pot shots from the perimeter, or are we going to contribute?

Are we lifters or leaners, to borrow an irritating Joe Hockeyism?

Are you in or out?

"Peri for mayor", the cry goes up on this columnist's Facebook feed from time to time, much to his amusement.

But I have the good fortune of being able to apply my passion for community through my day job; to make a living from promoting, interpreting and criticising the activities of our local governments, and particularly the Murray Bridge council.

I can achieve more on your behalf as an observer than a participant – after all, they fixed the East Terrace crater – and that is an opportunity for which I am grateful each day.

As far as our councillors go, I understand that sometimes it feels like anyone with a bit of common sense could do a better job.

But one of the things that sets those elected members apart from the rest of us and our strong opinions is: they were willing, four years ago, to stick their necks out and have a go.

Karen Eckermann and her interest in justice for all animals and people, Tyson Matthews and small business, Andrew Baltensperger and his outside-the-box ideas for development, Tod Cusack and his optimism, Airlie Keen and Callington-Monarto, even Mayor Brenton Lewis and his proud, safe, progressive agenda – four years ago each of them was on the outside looking in, but decided to give it a crack.

What about you?

Are you in or out?

Peri Strathearn

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