EDITORIAL: Careful who you vote for

The 'meet the candidates' election event organised by the Cooma Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday provided some interesting insights into some of the 16 contenders for the nine council places. Not all of the candidates turned up, but 10 did, and exposed themselves to sustained questioning from the business-oriented audience. Many of the candidates are not well known and so it was a worthwhile exercise in profile-raising.

There was a wide variety of ideas discussed, many of them not new, some of them tried in times past. There was a good degree of passion on show, and great displays of "I love Cooma" and how we can all pull together and make it an even better place to live. The words "unity" and "collaboration" got an airing and although details were scarce and rhetoric was common, there were time constraints.

What was really interesting was the approach taken by the "new" candidates, and that of the three current councillors who spoke. Those striving for election for the first time set out agendas, visions, plans, particularly about attracting new business to the town, and expanding tourism. The CBD footpaths got plenty of mentions too.

However, those who have served on council before focused more on the status quo, getting the budget right, strained finances, past achievements, helping locals first, steady as she goes, limitations on local government, lack of resources.

There was a comparison between those who want to get things moving - as they see it - and those who have learned to work within a local government system that deliberately imposes constraints.

As one of the candidates said, vote wisely, because they'll be in charge for the next four years.

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