Ode to the rookies – and why incumbents may have the edge

It’s a tough gig.

And probably one that rookie council candidates can never fully be ready for.

Running for council might look easy, but ask any of the newbies at last Thursday’s Meet the Candidates (MTC) night at Cooroy Memorial Hall if they agree.

Standing up in front of a 150-strong audience for three minutes, using sometimes-dodgy microphones to tell your life story and why you think you have skills to be a councillor is not for the faint-hearted. 

Unless you’re really angry – in which case, best quit while you’re ahead as you’ll likely lose anyway.

But four mayoral and 14 councillor candidates – well, actually, 12 councillor candidates on the night (one sent apologies while another arrived as presentations ended) – hit the footlights and gave their best, along with the incumbents and one with previous councillor experience, to do the impossible.

Your correspondent has been there, so my sympathies go out to all.

There’s a whole culture and related language to council affairs that helps those who have been ‘on the inside’ to more easily explain the efforts ‘their’ council has made in the just-completed term (or the term before, in one case).

Thus, incumbency gives the candidate not only name recognition, but also gives them more background on any issue, and the lingo to go with it.

And, as was evident at the event, the incumbents in some cases had practiced their speech timing down to the second, as indeed had a couple of rookies, so good on them. That’s a must, in these big fields.

This was the first in the MTC season, and while the speeches, in some cases, left something to be desired, Cooroy content was much in evidence, so homework was done in many cases.

Many background career experiences were voiced in resume-style introductions, with explanations why the candidate would be ‘suited’ to the role they had put their hand up for, but it has to be said that, judging by some of these CVs, they might be better qualified in many cases in applying for the reportedly ‘hundreds’ of job vacancies within the council workforce itself.

And mayoral aspirants spruiking sound, impressive business leadership credentials might, after this gladiatorial game is over and another is chosen, consider applying for the council’s upcoming CEO position, as that’s the role where their “let’s roll our sleeves up and sort this out” approach can perhaps find more fertile ground in the many issues of staff shortages, morale and job suitability.

Interestingly, the three-minute time limit in speech lengths can be both a blessing and a curse.

At the last election, in most cases, introduction and policy speeches were limited to one minute, with a similarly large field of candidates in play. 

While that had the drawback of limiting information, it focused the candidate on what mattered most – and helped the MTC event get to the question component more quickly.

All up, the evening went well, without vocal bloodshed, and will no doubt have served to provide a crash-course in self-presentation for rookies, in preparation for the members-only event hosted by Tourism Noosa on February 27 and the next mainstream MTC gathering on February 28 hosted by Noosa Chamber of Commerce.

And the good rookie performers after Round 1? 

Well, three so far IMHO … but you’ll just have to find out for yourself.


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    I was there and think your article is spot on. The only thing I would add is that at the end of the formal session the candidates had the opportunity to get down from the stage and mingle with the people. This gave those who may have been a reluctant to stand and ask a public question an opportunity to do so.

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