By CLARE COLLEY
WHEN voters go to the polls for Orange City Council’s September 8 election they will have the choice to vote for six groups above the line, two less than the 2008 election.
The group ticket system gives electors the option of voting for the group ticket of their choice on the ballot papers instead of having to show preferences for individual candidates.
Forty-five candidates have thrown their hat in the ring for the election with seven choosing to got it alone below the line as an individual, 36 lining up on a ticket and two deciding to run as a group below the line.
At the 2008 election only three candidates chose to run on their own while four ran below the line in two groups of two.
The numbers signal a shift away from the group system which was criticised by some current councillors earlier this year for politicising council.
Cr Sam Romano will run in a group below the line with Derek Johns, after previously standing as an individual.
He remained critical of the group ticket system saying electors should vote for individuals.
“[Mr Johns] is putting his name close to mine but there’ll be no advantage because we’ll be below the line,” he said.
“I would be happy to promote him as a good person.”
Cr Romano said he chose not to run with four other candidates to secure a group voting square above the line because he wanted to put a stop to factions on council.
Cr Neil Jones, who will head a Greens group, said the ticket system provided an opportunity for the election of new councillors with talent and fresh ideas who may not have a high public profile.
“Candidates on tickets share similar interests, concerns and vision and have wide ranging skills and talents, different professional and social backgrounds, and can reflect the needs of the whole community,” he said.
“By linking with an experienced candidate, it can increase their chances of election.
“The community is the ultimate winner under these circumstances, providing all team members are committed and are genuinely seeking election.”
Former Orange Ratepayers’ Association president Brian Wood said he does not like the system despite choosing to head a ticket of six candidates.
“It should be first past the post,” he said.
“Maybe people who run below the line have difficulty of finding another five to run with them.”
Cr Glenn Taylor said he and the candidate in second position on his ticket, deputy mayor Jeff Whitton, have worked as a team on council.
“We don’t always agree and that’s good, that’s healthy,” he said.
He said it would be a wonderful result if the two councillors were re-elected along with their third candidate intensive care nurse Peter Edwards.
Cr Jason Hamling, who will run in the second position on mayor John Davis’s ticket, said candidates who run a ticket are not obligated to vote with their fellow group members if elected to council.