Greater Dandenong council elections: Red Gum Ward

Not sure who to vote for? We put the tough questions to all candidates to help you make up your mind – read on for their answers.  All candidates have been sent the same questionnaire, which we will post as we receive them – check back here regularly for updates. Candidates have been given until October 6 to submit their responses.

RED GUM WARD

Dandenong, Dandenong South, Keysborough South, Lyndhurst and Bangholme

2008 election results:

Elected: Jim Memeti 4653, Angela Long 1888, Paul Donovan 1826 (not recontesting)

Enrolment: 22,664 (63.15 % voted)

Formal votes: 12,845

Informal: 1467

THE CANDIDATES SAY …

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ASHTON ASHOKKUMAR

Suburb of residence: Noble Park

Occupation: Small Business owner

Ward nominated for: Red Gum Ward

How long have you lived in Greater Dandenong? I have lived in Greater Dandenong since 2003.

Have you run for council/ been a councillor before, or any other level of government? If so, please list details (where, when, length of time, etc). This will be the first time I am running for Council, a Labor Party stronghold, which needs greater balance, councillors with common sense, ability and the commitment to get things done.

Are you/have you been a member of a political party? If yes, which party? If no, with which political party do you most identify? I am the only Liberal member contesting the election for Red Gum Ward.  The Liberal Party does not endorse council candidates, unlike the ALP and Greens who vote together in blocks.

Are you or have you ever been a member of an political interest or lobby group? Liberal Party

If you are elected, will you commit to remaining a councillor for the whole term? Yes

What is your campaign budget? Who is funding your campaign? N/A

Where will you be campaigning? I will be campaigning throughtout the entire Ward to provide some scrutiny, transparency and accountability to protect the interests of residents, ratepayers and local business.

Who will you direct your preferences to? Geraldine Gonsalvez, Jill Walsh and Dalibor Saula.

Describe your involvement in the local community. Past president and current vice president: Indian Tamil Association of Victoria, Dandenong Deanery Delegate, Board Member: Cyerene Centre. Member: Australia India Business Council, Member: Real Estate Institute of Victoria. Social member: Dandenong RSL 

What do you think being a councillor involves? A Councillor is a voice for the people in the local community, someone who can provide excellent services, deliver on investment in infrastructure and advocate for the community.  I am ready to step into that role.

What do you think are the most important issues for your ward?

– Practical approaches to improve Community safety;

– Better Early Childhood and Kindergarten services;

– Strengthening our multicultural, volunteer and community organisations;

– Strong economic development initiatives;

– Improved infrastructure

What do you think are the most important issues facing Greater Dandenong? Greater Dandenong requires balanced representation, not one dominated by Labor Party members.  By supporting my election to the City of Greater Dandenong, you will be ensuring that a Labor dominated Council such as Greater Dandenong is at least subject to some scrutiny, transparency and accountability to protect the interests of residents, ratepayers and local business.

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GERALDINE MARIE ANTOINETTE GONSALVEZ

Suburb of residence:  Central Dandenong. I have always lived in the Red Gum Ward. 

Occupation: Educator M Ed. B Ed. Grad Dip Ed. Dip T. ACU Melbourne Aust. Leadership in Family Ministry Melbourne. AITTCE Notre Dame, Bangalore India. AMI  Internationale.  

How long have you lived in Greater Dandenong? I have lived in Dandenong since I emigrated with my husband in 1984. I still live and continue to raise my family here.

Have you run for council/ been a councillor before, or any other level of government? If so, please list details (where, when, length of time, etc). Yes, I served one term at the dawn of the millennium from 2000 to 2003, as the Dandenong ward councillor.  Most recently I was second on the Senate ticket of the Victorian Senator the Hon.  Mr John Madigan Senator of Victoria.  This was a phenomenal victorious comeback that saw a DLP senator returned to Parliament after 33 years.  

Are you/have you been a member of a political party? If yes, which party? If no, with which political party do you most identify?  I believe local government must be local and not party political and I am a genuine independent in these council elections.  I believe councillors need to be the local voice of their ratepayers and residents and need to represent all residents first as opposed to a political party.  

Are you or have you ever been a member of a political interest or lobby group? I have never been a paid lobbyist but I have been elected as the chairperson and executive of many voluntary community, playgroups, kindergarten, school committees of management, including other inter – generational, preservation societies, environmental action groups, St. Mary’s Parish and Dandenong Deanery, and other community and regional resident action groups within the South East Metropolitan Region and Victoria, statewide.  

If you are elected, will you commit to remaining a councillor for the whole term? I’d like to think I would be able and alive and hopefully in good health to do so with God’s grace. I have learned to take one day at a time and hold the view that while we have no control of what the future may bring and while the future’s not ours to seek. However, the present is very much ours to seek and I believe we can make a difference in the here and now.  Hence I am contesting this election with the hope of being able to serve the residents of Greater Dandenong on its city council over the next four years and represent them in a truly local way. 

What is your campaign budget? Who is funding your campaign? Mine is pretty much in financial terms a pauper’s self – funded campaign budgeted from personal funds.  Unless, I should be so lucky as to obtain some welcoming financial campaign support, this time round. Any donation will help and is welcome and will be properly receipted.

Where will you be campaigning? In and around, the hustings and everywhere possible, around the ward.   I will be all day every day at the pre poll election centre on Lonsdale street so I urge residents to come along and have a chat about whatever it is they need support for.  

Who will you direct your preferences to? Currently I’m leaving that up to Dandenong to decide as our candidates are still considering this.  But I will most definitely not give my key preferences to any running mate but instead to a legitimate candidate.  My preferences will be crucial as in the event of me not winning it will help to elect the next candidate.  Look out for my How to Vote Cards on election day.

Describe your involvement in the local community. My community involvement dates way back to 1985 and my commitments are varied, voluntary and permanent and continue as Dandenong is my heartland and hometown.

To mention some, I was elected state president of VPA [Victorian Playgroups Association] during which time I brought the Wiggles for the first time to Dandenong in the Springers Leisure Centre in the late 1990’s. More recently I have been the south east metropolitan representative on the CESC which was the community Engagement Steering Committee of the Taylors Road hazardous waste landfill and I am  on the current CRG community reference group.  I was the previous chairperson of RATWISE [Residents against Toxic Waste in the South East and am a current member]. I was the founding chairperson of the Australian Indian Innovations Incorporation that have organised the festival of lights for the past 12 years at the Sandown racecourse entertainment venue. Also more recently I was the founding chair of the Rowan Park Preservation House Inc. and I am the current secretary of the Friends of Rowan Park house. I have also assisted with many of our children’s local sporting clubs. 

What do you think being a councillor involves? Local government is the most important form of Government as it is the Government closest to the people. It has the ability to define the character and opportunities of the city that we live in. I hope to bring the peoples voice to council and represent all residents equally and fairly.  I’d like to initiate and develop healthy partnerships that will create business and training opportunities as well as local jobs for our local residents.

As a councillor I will have the opportunity of bringing our communities together and building our human and social capacity to live, work & celebrate as a vibrant harmonious city.  

What do you think are the most important issues for your ward? The issues of education, job training, health and safety are of primary importance safety as the states only hazardous waste landfill as well as the IN2 zone for high hazard industries in this ward.  Hence good planning in view of buffers, risk management, worker safety as well as transportation of hazardous materials through the Central Business District and residential areas are crucial.  We have to ensure that the cumulative pollution is kept at its lowest with all the high hazard industries located in close proximity to residents in this ward including ground water pollution and air emissions.

What do you think are the most important issues facing Greater Dandenong? Settlement of new migrants and their families, support for mental health as well Employment, Education, and gambling prevention and rehab support for addicts of substance abuse.  Good Planning is critical and we have to avoid the ad hoc planning amendments and  inconsistent re zoning that creates amenity issues and incompatible co location of uses.  Recreational support and better public transport and means of commuting is a must for our city. We need to bring back life in to our main street and improve the parking arrangements on our main street to enable more business on to Lonsdale Street..  We have to guard against Dandenong becoming the Dumpanong of cheap goods, more toxic soils and contaminants and Hazardous waste.  We need better public housing for the aged and new comers to our city and above all equal access and opportunity for all.  I’d like us to be a safe, liveable, toxic free city that is welcoming to all.

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ANGELA LONG

Suburb of residence: Dandenong North

Occupation: Councillor

Ward nominated for: Red Gum

How long have you lived in Greater Dandenong? 55 years

Have you run for council/ been a councillor before, or any other level of government? If so, please list details (where, when, length of time, etc). Councillor for Lyndale ward 1997-2005, Red Gum ward 2008-12

Are you/have you been a member of a political party? If yes, which party? If no, with which political party do you most identify? Yes. Labor

Are you or have you ever been a member of an political interest or lobby group? No

If you are elected, will you commit to remaining a councillor for the whole term? Yes

What is your campaign budget? Who is funding your campaign? No budget. Self-funded.

Where will you be campaigning? Red Gum ward

Who will you direct your preferences to? Trang Tran

Describe your involvement in the local community. Local sporting clubs, public officer at two senior citizens clubs, life member North Dandenong Cricket Club, patron Bunjil Aboriginal Dance Group, life governor Freemasons Homes

What do you think being a councillor involves? 

– Making a commitment to represent your residents. 

– Being their voice on council

– Making sure that the budget is spent wisely.

What do you think are the most important issues for your ward?

– Finishing the municipal office and library.

– Working with Places Victoria to get the best outcome for Dandenong

What do you think are the most important issues facing Greater Dandenong?

– Grade separation at Springvale Road

– Fly-over for Springvale Rd, Police Rd, Centre Rd and Princes Highway

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MATTHEW KIRWAN

Suburb of residence: Keysborough

Occupation: Project Manager

Ward nominated for: Red Gum Ward

How long have you lived in Greater Dandenong?  39 years – all my life

Have you run for council/ been a councillor before, or any other level of government? If so, please list details (where, when, length of time, etc). Ran as a candidate for the seat of Dandenong at the 2010 State Election

Are you/have you been a member of a political party? If yes, which party? If no, with which political party do you most identify? Greens

Are you or have you ever been a member of an political interest or lobby group? No

If you are elected, will you commit to remaining a councillor for the whole term? Yes

What is your campaign budget? Who is funding your campaign? I am funding most of my campaign myself.

Where will you be campaigning? All throughout the ward.  It is a large and diverse ward and it is important that no part is ignored.

Who will you direct your preferences to? Still deciding.  

Describe your involvement in the local community. 

• Secretary, Greater Dandenong Neighbourhood Watch

• Active Member, Lions Club of Dandenong (Luncheon)

What do you think being a councillor involves?

• Listening to the ideas and concerns of all residents and ratepayers

• Driving council to deliver what residents and ratepayers want

• When it is a State or Federal Government responsibility, lobbying hard for what residents and ratepayers want

• Managing the Council budget wisely and eliminating waste

• Acting honestly and transparently

What do you think are the most important issues for your ward?

• Overdevelopment and poor planning.  

• Community safety.  We need more police and better lighting

• Getting the basics right. Fixing footpaths and potholes, removing dumped rubbish, removing graffiti and reducing speeding on residential streets

• Lack of parking and traffic congestion in central Dandenong

• The needs of the new estates in Keysborough are being ignored.  We need a Council that lobbies State and Federal Governments for a new government school, new bus routes and day care facilities to be built for the area as soon as possible.

What do you think are the most important issues facing Greater Dandenong?

• Overdevelopment and poor planning

• Community Safety

• Services and facilities not keeping up with population growth particularly in the new estates in Keysborough

• Employment.  We need a Council that supports local business to grow local jobs.

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DALIBOR SAULA

Suburb of residence: Dandenong North       

Occupation: Business Analyst 

Ward nominated for: Red Gum

How long have you lived in Greater Dandenong? Over 10 years

Have you run for council/ been a councillor before, or any other level of government? If so, please list details (where, when, length of time, etc). I have run for council in 2008. I was about 120 votes shy of being elected. 

Are you/have you been a member of a political party? If yes, which party? If no, with which political party do you most identify? I have not been a member of a political party to date. 

Are you or have you ever been a member of an political interest or lobby group? I have not been a member of an official lobby group however I do lobby on issues that are of interest to me and my community. 

If you are elected, will you commit to remaining a councillor for the whole term? I will definitely commit to remain a councillor for the whole term. I take this election seriously and would fulfil my full term as a councillor. 

What is your campaign budget? Who is funding your campaign? My campaign budget so far has been solely funded by myself. I have not received any money from other people. 

Where will you be campaigning? I am trying to spread my campaign over social media as well as targeting homes and individuals through pamphlets and letters. 

Who will you direct your preferences to? My second preference will go to Matthew Kirwan. Other preferences have not yet been decided on. 

Describe your involvement in the local community. My main focus in the last 4 years has been doing voluntary work to help learning and development of kids and young adult. I have also done one on one mentoring of a young individual who has become a fine young man.

What do you think being a councillor involves? Govern councils budget through community consultation. This is to ensure that community gets the full benefit of the ratepayers dollar. Throughout a 4 year term this would mean continuous meetings and discussions with residents as well as businesses in the area to obtain their views as to what needs to be improved and consult with experts and have  carefully thought plan for our city grow. We need to cater for people with disability, workers, families, individuals, business owners and everyone else. So careful consideration needs to be given when making any chance in Dandenong so that the change positively affects as many people as possible. 

What do you think are the most important issues for your ward? Dandenong East (David St, Garside St etc.) and other lower parts of Dandenong have a serious issue of flooding. I think that residents living in these areas would appreciate drainage being fixed as soon as possible, so that their houses don’t get filled with water at the first wave of heavy rains. 

Dandenong North – Menzies Avenue – That area requires attention to make it more aesthetically pleasing. As there is a school and a lot of children in that area it is important to keep the area drug/alcohol/violence and graffiti free. It needs to be more family friendly. 

A number of streets also require planning to cater for increased traffic flow and safety of pedestrians as well as safety of road users. 

Dandenong West – As there is also a school in the area – more money needs to be spent to ensure that the surrounding area looks good and is presentable. Ensure that the paths and streets are clean and safe for kids to walk through. Floods in low lying areas is also a problem that needs to be resolved. Road crossings and safety of children is vital. 

Dandenong Centre – Support for traders is vital. Without traders there would not be much of Dandenong. Council needs to listen to their concerns. One of the suggestions from traders is to invest in more car parking spaces in the area. Promote development and re-development of buildings such as the Dandenong Hub. i.e. Perhaps re-brand the Dandenong hub to get more exposure. 

Dandenong South – Residents in Dandenong South as well as owners/operators of various factories and businesses in that area need support. Supporting companies to keep opening entry level jobs is vital. Factory jobs like line workers, packers and other various factory positions are vital for Dandenong in particular for those that just arrived to Australia, and want to be employed and earn their own income. That is why zoning and various changes need to change in Dandenong South to allow companies to invest in production and manufacturing. Support from the government is also necessary for companies to invest in better ways of disposing bad liquids and gasses to minimise the pollution that is released into our air, land and water systems. 

What do you think are the most important issues facing Greater Dandenong? Dandenong as a whole without looking into a specific area I would have to say growth of the city, jobs and education. More support for disabled and elderly.

* I will lobby to cater for smarter growth of Dandenong

* I will promote businesses to get more jobs in Dandenong, High end and entry level jobs. 

* I will also push for more education in Dandenong. I think it is vital that Dandenong in the next 10 to 15 years builds a university or has some sort of higher education in Dandenong. Education is good for business. It is just as vital to invest in TAFE and VCAL education. This can be by lobbying the state government and providing councils support where possible. 

* I will lobby for better future planning for the disabled and elderly. Better positioned bus stations, better platforms, easy access public and private transportation. This includes better parking and more parking for disabled. 

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JIM MEMETI

Suburb of residence: Dandenong

Occupation: Self-employed

How long have you lived in Greater Dandenong?  37 years. I’ve lived here since my family migrated when I was 2.

Have you run for council/ been a councillor before, or any other level of government? I’ve been a councillor for Greater Dandenong for two terms. 

Are you/have you been a member of a political party? If yes, which party? If no, with which political party do you most identify? Yes. I’m a member of the Australian Labor Party.

Are you or have you ever been a member of an political interest or lobby group? No.

If you are elected, will you commit to remaining a councillor for the whole term? Definitely. I’ll commit for the four years.

What is your campaign budget? Who is funding your campaign? $2-3000. I’m funding it myself.

Where will you be campaigning? In Red Gum ward.

Who will you direct your preferences to? I haven’t worked it out but I like to preference people with the same values as I have.

Describe your involvement in the local community. I am contactable any time. I’m always out and about helping community groups, sports clubs and charitable organisations.

What do you think being a councillor involves? Hard work, dedication to your community, plenty of meetings and always being available to hear residents’ matters.

What do you think are the most important issues for your ward? Revitalising Central Dandenong – the municipal building project has just started and needs to be completed. The council is working with the state government on areas around the train station, which are being upgraded and needs to be continued. Working with local sporting clubs to upgrade their facilities. It’s a passion of mine to get kids off the streets onto sports grounds where they are supervised.

What do you think are the most important issues facing Greater Dandenong? Multiculturalism is very important in Dandenong, which is one of the most multicultural cities in Australia. We’ve been doing a great job to date and must continue that in the future.

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MURUGAN NAGARAJAN

Suburb of residence: Dandenong

Occupation: N/A

Ward nominated for: Red Gum Ward

How long have you lived in Greater Dandenong? Nearly 14 years.

Have you run for council/ been a councillor before, or any other level of government? If so, please list details (where, when, length of time, etc). No.

Are you/have you been a member of a political party? If yes, which party? If no, with which political party do you most identify? No, N/A.

Are you or have you ever been a member of an political interest or lobby group? No.

If you are elected, will you commit to remaining a councillor for the whole term? Yes.

What is your campaign budget? Who is funding your campaign? N/A.

Where will you be campaigning? Letterbox, newspapers.

Who will you direct your preferences to? N/A.

Describe your involvement in the local community. N/A.

What do you think being a councillor involves? Representation, local planning, coordination, decision making, accountability.

What do you think are the most important issues for your ward? Safe roads and paths, to keep rates low,  frequent public transport,  safe leisure/recreation facilities, Herbert Street crossing issue.

What do you think are the most important issues facing Greater Dandenong?

Issues to address:

To improve – public transport 

To increase – parking

To attract more – investments (federal & state government and private)

To control – over-spending/borrowing

To support more – community activities

To improve – support and services for youth and seniors.

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WICKI WICKIRAMASINGHAM

Suburb of residence: Dandenong

Occupation: Interpreter, Marriage Celebrant and Justice of the Peace.

Ward nominated for: Red Gum Ward.

How Long have you lived in Greater Dandenong? I’ve lived in Dandenong for 23 years.

Have you run for councillor before? Yes, this is my third time running for council. I ran for Greater Dandenong council in 2004 and 2008.

Are you a member of a political party? Yes, I’m a member of the Australian Labor Party.

Are you or have you ever been a member of a political interest or lobby group? I have formerly been a member of the CEPU (Communications, Electrical, Plumbing Union) as a shop steward at the Dandenong Letter Centre.

If elected, will you commit to remaining a councillor for the whole term? Yes

What is your campaign budget, who is funding your campaign? A small amount, helped out by members of the local community.

Where will you be campaigning? Dandenong town centre, Menzies Avenue shopping centre, and around Dandenong Hospital.

Describe your involvement in the local community? I’m a Justice of the Peace, and I have been involved in a number of local schools and organisations during my time in Dandenong, including serving as a School Councillor with the Dandenong West Primary School, Cleeland Secondary College and Noble Park English Language School. I’m also a former Board Member of the South East Migrant Resource Centre, and a Refugee Advocate in the broader community. In 2004 I was recognised by the City of Greater Dandenong as a “living treasure” for my broader community work. I’ve also served as an Advisory Council Member of the Victorian Multicultural Commission, and have been awarded for excellence in multiculturalism by the former Governor, David de Kretser. I am now also a broadcaster at 3MDR community radio.

What do you think being a councillor involves? Representing residents at a local level, to help improve the local community for all who live here.

What do you think are the most important issues for your ward? There is a real need for greater car parking space in central Dandenong, as well as at nearby schools such as Dandenong High School and Dandenong North Primary.I believe schools in the area could offer greater access to community organisations which need facilities and space to organise and run events and cultural and community programs. More recreational and BBQ facilities can be provided in parks across Red Gum ward such as Hemmings Park. We also need more services and amenities for senior citizens and the disabled across Red Gum Ward.

What do you think are the most important issues facing Greater Dandenong? Opportunities for local residents to get a job and also receive training is a very important issue right now, with funding cuts to TAFE meaning 220 jobs at Chisholm Institute of TAFE will be lost. This will also mean fewer opportunities for local residents to gain employment which is very concerning. I believe employers in the industrial and manufacturing sectors should consider further local residents as priority when hiring new staff, so that all members of the community can find meaningful and worthy work. Further to this, I believe the City of Greater Dandenong needs to provide greater access and amenities for local residents such as more car parks in central Dandenong and around schools, as well as provide more community spaces for organisations and cultural groups. We also have a responsibility to campaign for better housing options for local residents. We need more health services such as GPs in the area. I want to see more medical centres providing services to local residents, including important after hour facilities. The City of Greater Dandenong is a vibrant, multicultural city and we need to continue to build on these strengths and support newer humanitarian migrants and the diversity of our cultural communities, working in harmony with one another. 

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JOHN GULZARI

Suburb of residence: Doveton

Occupation: Licensed Estate Agent

Ward nominated for: Red Gum Ward

How long have you lived in Greater Dandenong? 11 years.  From Jan 2000 to Jan 2011

Have you run for council/ been a councillor before, or any other level of government? If so, please list details (where, when, length of time, etc). NO.

Are you/have you been a member of a political party? If yes, which party? If no, with which political party do you most identify? Member of ALP.

Are you or have you ever been a member of a political interest or lobby group? Act for Peace – Ambassador Human rights activist. ; White Robbins Foundation; Lobbying to protect our TAFEs

If you are elected, will you commit to remaining a councillor for the whole term? Yes, definitely.

What is your campaign budget? Who is funding your campaign? $1000-$2000, self-funded.

Where will you be campaigning? Within the boundaries of Red Gum Ward; Social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Website); Direct campaigning

Who will you direct your preferences to? Wickiramasingham. N.R.

Describe your involvement in the local community. 

Volunteered with Country Fire Authority CFA – Keysborough Twice won the volunteering award from Dandenong Council 

Involved in Afghan Bazaar project

Support Little India Bazaar Traders

Lobby to get University for Dandenong

Out Story website (launched Friday 23 Sept 2012 – Dandenong Market)

What do you think being a councillor involves? 

* Passion, commitment and time to help the community 

* Prepared to learn and be accountable 

* Improve infrastructure, local planning and amenity

* Interested and engaged in the communities

What do you think are the most important issues for your ward?

* Public safety at Dandenong station

* Disruption due to revitalisation for retail traders

* Support for retail traders and SMEs

*Disappearance of Lt. India Bazaar

What do you think are the most important issues facing Greater Dandenong?

* Shortage of rental housing and affordability 

* Housing affordability for youths 

* Childcare for families with children

* Employment opportunities 

* Traffic management due to revitalisation 

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