SIX months out from an expected Orange City Council election, the contenders are starting to emerge.
But two-time Labor candidate for Orange Bernard Fitzsimon is the first to overtly fly party colours in connection with local government.
One would be naive to suggest party ideology never comes into local government because those who run for representative office of any description inevitably have some political interest.
Indeed, many of Orange’s existing councillors are members of political parties – Neil Jones is a Green, Russell Turner and Ron Gander are Nationals and Scott Munro was a National before he defected to run as an independent in the byelection.
Glenn Taylor and Jeff Whitton are long-time Labor men and Kevin Duffy used to be Labor until quite recently.
Yet with the exception of The Greens, no other parties have run tickets for Orange City Council historically, perhaps until now.
There are very good reasons for this and Cr Taylor and mayor John Davis have put it best – politics should stay out of local government.
Apart from the odd jibe at the state government for not helping with maintenance on the Northern Distributor Road and differing views on council amalgamations, most of the items through Orange City Council at the moment are passed unanimously, a lot of the time with little or no discussion, and if another level of government awards a grant, they don’t mind which side of politics it comes from.
This is because the day-to-day business of local government is roads, rates and rubbish.
Do ratepayers care about refugees, royal commissions, schools and greyhounds when they’re selecting their councillors?
No, because they want their rubbish collected, roads maintained and libraries and aquatic centres provided.
Sure, the council has branched out into economy-boosting through the grow local program and arguably green projects like composting and stormwater harvesting.
But those programs transcend politics by acting in the area’s best interests – creating jobs or protecting water security or cutting the amount of waste to landfill, hopefully in doing so achieving the greatest efficiency possible with the high rates we pay.
There is nothing wrong with having an ideology and a set of values, as long as they do not cloud what the area needs.