By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Sitting Greater Dandenong councillor Sophie Tan and Springvale pharmacist Richard Lim appear to be resoundingly elected for the next four years.
In early election counting, Ms Tan has received 49 per cent of primary votes in Noble Park Ward. Mr Lim was supported by 59 per cent in Springvale Central Ward.
The ALP pair will likely be joined in council by fellow Labor members Jim Memeti (Dandenong Ward) and Lana Formoso (Noble Park North Ward).
Dandenong North Ward appears too close to call at this stage.
Candidate Bob Milkovic, with 40 per cent of primaries so far, narrowly leads sitting ALP-member councillor Zaynoun Melhem (38 per cent).
The remaining candidate Gabrielle Maas’s preferences will be decisive.
Cleeland Ward’s sitting councillor Angela Long leads the primary count so far but the result also hinges on preferences.
Ms Tan said her first priority was help residents and businesses recover as the Covid lockdown eases.
The area supported Premier Daniel Andrews’ handling of the pandemic, particularly in suppressing the second wave, she said.
Her direct mailouts, personal letters and social media advertising triumphed against the “bullying” and “dirty” tactics against herself and her campaign assistant and former mayor Roz Blades, she said.
“I was so nervous because my name was on the bottom of the (ballot) ticket.
“You have to work hard to get good results.”
Mr Lim, a first-time candidate, prioritized fixing the narrow corners and dim lighting in the multi-level car park at 8 Balmoral Avenue, Springvale.
He also said the council should provide a roofed outdoor dining area for cafes and restaurants in Buckingham Avenue as they re-open out of lockdown.
With indoor customers are restricted to 20 under Covid restrictions, outdoor dining facilities would help businesses survive, Mr Lim said.
The well-known philanthropist also pledged to donate his $31,000 annual councillor allowance to Monash Children’s Hospital and local groups in need of “urgent” funds.
He was grateful for voters emphatically endorsing him as a “trusted person”.
He intends to visit every shopowner in central Springvale to encourage more attractive shop fronts. He’ll also lobby for brighter lights and security cameras to activate the precinct at night.
“Springvale can be like Singapore or Hong Kong. It can be very attractive and attract more visitors and people from overseas as well.”