An election forum on the Sunshine Coast attracted significant attention.
An election forum on the Sunshine Coast attracted significant attention. Warren Lynam

Media Talk: Keeping public informed for council elections

MAYBE it's because we find our state and federal politicians so uninspiring, but there seems to have been a surge in interest in the local body elections.

Our mastheads across Queensland have been flooded with letters to the editor and the turnout at the mayoral and meet-the-councillor forums has been stirring.

It's perhaps a safe bet to say we'll get the same reaction when elections are held in New South Wales later in the year.

I moderated an event in Kingaroy, a 90-minute drive west of the Sunshine Coast, last week and you could see the delight in the eyes of some of those in the large crowd as we took questions from the floor.

There, the debate is all about roads and a levy ratepayers face to maintain them. Mayoral candidate Damien Tessmann copped the majority of the questions - and gave the biggest train wreck of an answer.

When a dear old thing asked what had happened to her letter to him complaining about why her driveway was inaccessible, the sitting councillor said it had been passed on to staff and it was their issue. What a way to lose a vote.

After the meeting, he did point out he'd discussed the issue with the ratepayer personally at a couple of other forums already, but he blew it in front of the crowd.

These meetings are vital to see the whites of the eyes of the candidates. Where they are properly run - and from the feedback I'm getting around the traps, we've been holding candidates to account very strongly - they are gold.

How do the contenders react under pressure? Do they have ideas or platitudes?

In some of the markets, we've hosted nearly 10 debates across divisions. It's a massive commitment from editors who still have their day job to do.

But this is what we are there for, and the troops relish it.

Now it's up to you, the voter.

And the first stop to find out if your preferred candidate got over the line?

Your local newspaper website. We have large teams working this weekend to make sure you get the news first.


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