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Information is key for council election candidates

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People interested in standing for council should engage with key community leaders, according to results from a new Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) survey.

More than 170 current Victorian councillors participated in the MAV survey to give a first-hand account of the councillor role and tips on getting elected. The advice and insights from the survey will be useful for community-minded citizens who are considering standing at the 22 October local government elections.

MAV chief executive officer, Rob Spence said the survey data showed that current councillors overwhelmingly received election information by engaging locally.

"The top three ways candidates found out about standing for council in 2012 was by speaking to a current councillor, attending an MAV Candidate Information Session, and through community links," he said.

"This survey feedback shows that if you're serious about standing for council it’s important you gain insight from a current councillor or through an information session before nominating to ensure you fully understand what is expected of an elected official.

"So far we have run 24 candidate information sessions, with a further 58 to run throughout Victoria during July and August and we encourage prospective candidates to come along, learn about the role and ask questions of MAV representatives and council CEOs."

Mr Spence said it was important councillors had all the information ahead of nominating because survey data also showed that some candidates had underestimated some aspects of being a councillor when comparing their initial expectations and actual experiences.

"The overall workload and amount of reading were greater than the majority of councillors had expected. This is why we suggest prospective candidates attend a council meeting and talk with current councillors prior to nominations opening," he said.

"Our survey also showed that councillors overwhelmingly believe the positives outweighed the negatives when comparing initial expectations and actual experiences. Just over half said the sense of reward exceeded their expectations, and 68 per cent felt the opportunity to learn new skills was greater than they'd anticipated.

"Prospective candidates also need to be aware that some conflict in the council chamber will exist in a political environment where passionate and diverse views are held.

"However, only 37 per cent of councillors felt that conflict in the council chamber was greater than they had anticipated. It's important not to take decisions personally, particularly if your position didn’t receive majority support as this can lead to increased conflict.

"Councillors who understand the importance of working together tend to have a better success rate at influencing decisions and achieving their priorities during their elected term," he said.

View our 2016 Stand for Council survey data (PDF - 231KB)

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For further information contact MAV CEO Rob Spence on 0418 132 573 or the MAV Communications Unit on (03) 9667 5547.