Election 2020’s non-troll ‘haven’

Sean O''Reilly

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Springvale North Ward has been declared a “haven of civility” during what’s been termed Greater Dandenong’s dirtiest election.

Sitting ALP member councillor Sean O’Reilly said social media commentary in neighbouring wards was at a “level of nastiness and hostility not seen in local government elections ever before”.

“Compared with some of the other wards, Springvale North Ward is a haven of civility.

“There has been no defacing of posters, and no personal targeting of candidates.”

As reported in recent weeks, candidates from all sides in other wards have been alarmed by toxic levels of social media abuse and trolling.

No candidate in Springvale North Ward had distributed how-to-vote recommendations as “we are trusting voters to select their own preference order”, Cr O’Reilly said.

“Each candidate in Springvale North Ward is putting their points across in a positive way.

“I’m sure that whoever wins in Springvale North Ward will work with the unsuccessful candidates to progress their ideas for the betterment of the community.

“It’s what local representation should be about.”

Cr O’Reilly said he’d chatted with independent rival Angela Holl a few months ago.

“I have served on Springvale Rise School Council with Angela’s sister Dyna for many years and worked with Dyna on the Lindsay Williams Crossing congestion (issue).”

His messages with fellow ALP member candidate Ricardo Buensuceso had been “very positive”.

Ms Holl, an independent in her first election campaign, was likewise keen to run a “clean, positive and fair” campaign.

“If I win, I want to win in the right way.”

It was challenging not being able to door-knock residents due to the Covid lockdown, Ms Holl said.

Neither could candidates engage face-to-face with voters at poll booths due to postal voting.

“I’ve been pleased with the reaction on social media and from the supportive phone calls I’ve received,” she said.

“Even if we’re not connecting face to face, we’re finding other ways to talk.”

Residents and struggling businesses “our side of the railway line” were feeling forgotten, in contrast to their neighbours in Springvale’s CBD, Ms Holl said.

They needed particular support during the Covid and post-Covid periods.

“That’s not to say investment in Springvale Central (ward) is bad. That’s where the facilities are.

“We should just divvy up the amount a bit.”

Voting for the Greater Dandenong Council elections close on Friday 23 October. Ballot papers must be in the mail by 6pm.