BALLARAT is suffering from a dearth of candidates willing to throw their hat in the City of Ballarat ring.
With major economic projects in the balance - and October 27 only five months away - potential candidates for the upcoming council elections are few and far between.
Of the current nine councillors, only three, Ben Taylor, Des Hudson and John Philips, have confirmed they will stand again.
Judy Verlin and Noel Perry have ruled themselves out completely.
Mayor Mark Harris, immediate past mayor Craig Fletcher and councillors Samantha McIntosh and Cheryl Bromfield are all keeping their cards close to their chests.
As for the rest of the field, only two candidates, who have both stood before in 2008, have so far put up their hands.
Greens member Belinda Coates will stand on a platform of environmental and social issues, plus improved community engagement.
Gary Fitzgerald, who is retired and volunteers at the Ballarat Tourist Information Centre and Ballarat Health Services, will also stand again in Central Ward.
Mr Fitzgerald said he rated jobs as the number one in issue in Ballarat, closely followed by the need for local councils to stick to local issues. “The average ratepayer doesn’t feel they’re getting a fair go at the moment.”
Of The Courier’s list of potential council candidates, several have indicated they are still considering their options, with the workload and the pay proving a factor.
Most have ruled themselves out for those very reasons.
Several Ballarat East residents have been urging Ballarat East Network founder Erin McCuskey to stand, but she says definitely not. “It’s an enormous amount of work and quite lowly paid,” Ms McCuskey said.
Electorate officer to Ballarat MP Jaala Pulford and Voice FM chairman Tully Smith agreed, along with his Geoff Howard counterpart Brett Edgington. “I have considered it but, being a parliamentary staffer, I would have to resign from my job if elected and I do have a mortgage to pay,” Mr Smith said.
Ballarat Resident and Ratepayers Association chairman Dr Elissa Backer also gave a definite no. “My focus is on my academic career,” Dr Backer said.
Former candidate and local solicitor Andrew Faull also ruled out any new campaign.
Retired accountant and Civic Hall opponent Peter Toohey, who hasn’t made any decision on standing, said there needed to be several hundred more dollars in the council budget to attract quality councillors.
Others still debating standing are Miners Rest IT professional Scott Hibbard and recently retired long-serving council arts and culture manager Ron Egeberg.
Lawyer, horticulturalist and Greens party member David Eldridge is also looking at putting his hand up. Former councillor Peter Innes said is currently looking at his options.
Ex-mayor David Vendy had no comment to make about his likelihood of standing again, while another former mayor John Barnes has also said he would not stand again.
Former Eureka Pool operator Peter McKenzie, who is away on business, has previously said he would consider running.
However, Mayor Harris said it was a bit early for candidates to be coming out of the woodwork yet – or to make any firm commitment himself.
“I want to focus on the agenda council has now but it’s good to see people putting their hands up.”
But Municipal Association of Victoria president councillor Bill McArthur said he felt it was still too far from October for people to nominate. However, he did acknowledge the pay rate may also play a part.
“It has been discussed over a long period of time. The current arrangements recognise the voluntary element of being a councillor and recognition of the time you have to put in,” Cr McArthur said.