Regional voters are being left without options at this year’s local government elections as six councillors from three shires around Ballarat are returned unopposed.
Thirty-four councillors including seven mayors will be returned unopposed across the state, with all of the mayors coming from regional areas.
The Pyrenees Shire is the least contested of the councils which surround the City of Ballarat, with just two of the five incumbent councillors facing a challenge in October. Just seven people put their hands up for the shire’s five positions.
The rural councils of Towong and Mansfield are the worst represented in the state, with no alternative candidates in either shire nominating.
Municipal Association of Victoria chief executive Rob Spence said while the lack of competition in some instances represented confidence in local government, the lack of nominations was concerning.
“Our overriding principle is we want to see effective elections occur,” Mr Spence said. “It’s a difficult proposition in rural Victoria where communities know each other much better than metro councils, and as a consequence you do get uncontested seats because of a level of respect for what people are doing.”
Creswick councillors Don Henderson and Greg May will both be returned unopposed to the Hepburn Shire Council, despite representing the second most populous ward in the shire.
Creswick has just 190 fewer local government enrollments than the Birch ward, which has five candidates contesting for two seats.
When evaluated on state enrollments, which provides a more accurate representation of permanent residents, Creswick is the largest ward in the shire.
In the Moorabool Shire, West Moorabool councillor Tom Sullivan will again be returned without facing a challenger. The representative was first elected in 1996, and has since cruised through four elections unopposed, meaning ward residents have not been required to vote for 20 years.
Mr Sullivan said he hoped the lack of opposition represented an endorsement.