WITH 45 candidates contesting Saturday’s Orange City Council election - the most Orange has seen - the city has bucked a statewide trend of dwindling candidates in the 152 council areas , according to local government expert Richard Stanton.
He said the final result would come down to how candidates communicated with voters and in most cases they didn’t do it well.
“Most don’t answer the real question and the real question is, ‘What qualifies you to be a candidate?’,” he said.
“They tend to say, ‘I want to make a difference’, but the other side is, ‘Where do you want to make a difference?’.”
Dr Stanton said many candidates spend a lot of money in advertising but don’t actually educate the voter about their policies and what local government is about.
“It’s partly a lack of understanding of what grassroots campaigning is all about,” he said.
“There’s been candidates who have done really well in the past with small budgets.”
Some Orange councillors had criticised candidates running for council on a single platform.
But Dr Stanton said single-issue politics at a council level could work well and be a good campaign mechanism.
As the leader of Group A, Glenn Taylor has the “number one spot” on the ballot paper, Dr Stanton said, meaning he will benefit from the donkey vote tomorrow.
“He’ll pull [number two on his ticket] Jeff Whitton in and might even pull in three candidates with the donkey vote,” he said.
“The idea of getting that top spot is cherished.”
Current councillors Sam Romano, Neil Jones and Jason Hamling are also likely to retain their spots on council as is mayor John Davis as voters will look for the devil they know.
Dr Stanton said councillors Reg Kidd and Chris Gryllis were at a disadvantage because they had chosen to run as individual ungrouped candidates.
“People don’t like voting below the line,” he said.
“There can be education and information about both [above and below the line voting] but the real problem is the average person is not in the least bit interested in local politics.
“It’s a sad indictment on the lack of communication from local government.”
As the only two candidates without council connections heading tickets in the election, Brian Wood and Ron Gander have to develop campaigns to build layers within the community, Dr Stanton said.
Using well-known names in groups, such as former mayor Dick Niven on Russell Turner’s ticket, can attract votes as it lends “celebrity status”.
Although preference deals between group candidates have come under fire, Dr Stanton said evidence suggested most voters don’t pay any attention to the deals.
“They’re not stupid, they’re really savvy in seeing through them,” he said.
“[Groups] giving preferences is silly, their quotas will be exhausted because they’ve got six [candidates] on their ticket.”
He believes Kevin Duffy’s defection from Cabonne may deter would-be voters.
Dr Stanton said the perception that local government was a nursery for party politics in the higher government tiers could also be a problem.
Similarly, candidates known for their political affiliation who choose to run as independents can also put off prospective voters.