NOT sure who to vote for in the Knox council elections? 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. We will post their answers as we receive them - check back here regularly for updates.
Includes: Rowville and Lysterfield
Incumbent: Darren Pearce (since 2008)
Number of registered voters: 13,777
At the 2008 election:
Registered voters: 13,777
Voter turnout: 11,360 (82.46 per cent of the total enrolment)
Formal votes: 10,833
Informal votes: 752
Suburb of residence: Rowville
Occupation: Business Owner / Company Director
How long have you lived in Knox? 10 years.
Have you run for council/ been a councillor before, or any other level of government? I am the current serving Councillor for Taylor Ward for the City of Knox. I was elected at the previous Council election in 2008.
Are you/have you been a member of a political party? If yes, which party? If no, with which party do you most identify? Not relevant as I am standing as an independent candidate not funded or endorsed by any political party as I did in 2008 (Editor’s note: Darren Pearce ran for pre-selection in the seat of Aston as a Liberal Party member in 2009).
Are you or have you ever been a member of a 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? Confidential.
Who is funding your campaign? Myself.
Who has paid for your nomination fee? Myself.
Who will you direct your preferences to? N/A as there are only two candidates nominated.
Describe your involvement in the local community. As a serving Councillor I have been involved in or assisted local:
* Sporting clubs and Auskick.
* Scouting groups.
* Not for profit community service organisations .
* Schools, pre-schools and playgroups .
What do you think being a councillor involves?
At a Council level:
* Diligently working through the annual budget process ensuring proper management of city finances.
* Diligently working through long term planning and development strategies to ensure proper management of future city growth.
* Ensuring proper discharging of goverance responsibilities through regular meeting attendance.
* Ensuring planning is in place for the proper maintenance of Council infrastructure and delivery of services.
At a ward level:
* Attending to resident issues in a timely and efficient manner.
* Attending local community organisation events.
* Engaging with local residents through door knocking and other communication methods.
What do you think are the most important issues for your ward?
* Restraint of rate increases.
* The Rowville Rail and improved public transport.
* Preventing any further expansion of bus lanes.
* Inappropriate apartment/high density development.
* Ongoing maintenance of footpaths, roads, drains and replacement of inappropriate street trees.
* On time waste collection.
* Upgrading of sporting reserves and open space.
* Ensuring pre-schools are properly resourced.
* Taking action to deal with hoons and other anti-social behaviour.
* Activties for our youth.
What do you think are the most important issues facing Knox?
* Restraint of rate increases.
* Properly planning and managing higher density development.
* Maintaining Knox’s green and leafy image.
* Improved public transport.
* Proper service provision for an aging population.
* Maintaining infrastructure and essential Council provided services.
* Encouraging business and economic development to create local employment opportunities
There has been much debate about development in Knox recently, particularly in Boronia and green wedge zones. What are your thoughts on the future of planning in these areas? The Boronia Structure Plan was finalised with local community consultation this year and was approved without dissent by all Councillors. The areas designated for substantial change have been limited to a few key areas near the railway station and bus interchange. The structure plan provides certainty to residents and developers of what developments are and are not allowable.
Are there any other areas’ future development needs to be addressed? Why? Yes to ensure develop occurs in a way the reflects local community aspirations it is essential to develop structure plans in the Rowville and Mountain Gate major activity centres and neighbourhood activity centres such as Ferntree Gully Village.
What would you suggest the council could to do continue to advocate for better public transport in Knox (ie. the Knox Tram and Rowville Rail)? It is essential the Council continues to lobby the State and Commonwealth governments to fund the Rowville Rail and Knox Tram projects in addition to improved bus services if Knox is to be able to cope with an additional 12,000 residents by 2030 as is projected.
There has been strong debate recently about the extent of sport funding in Knox. Do you think sport deserves significant money? Yes as structured team sporting activities provide a valuable service to the development of our youth.
...or are there other groups or sectors in Knox who also deserve more funding? If so, who? There needs to be more funding to our library services, Scouting Groups and arts and cultural services to meet the needs of young people whoare not involved in structured sport.
Suburb of residence: Rowville
Occupation: Event manager, youth consultant, board member for not-for-profit organisations.
How long have you lived in Knox? I’ve lived in Rowville for 21 years – nearly 22, I’m proud to have been born and raised 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). I’ve previously stood for the Legislative Council of the Victorian Parliament on behalf of young people in 2010; I was unsuccessful in the bid.
Are you/have you been a member of a political party? If yes, which party? If no, with which party do you most identify? I’m not a member of any political party. I’m independent in my policies.
Are you or have you ever been a member of a political interest or lobby group? I’m a member of the Public Transport Users Association and the Youth Advocacy Group.
If you are elected, will you commit to remaining a councillor for the whole term? I will be committing for the whole term, if I wasn’t I wouldn’t be running.
What is your campaign budget? Who is funding your campaign? Who has paid for your nomination fee? I’m not a wealthy man and as such my budget is $2000. I’ve received some donations from members of the community and I’ve been funding my campaign myself - this includes my nomination fee.
Who will you direct your preferences to? As there are only two candidates I don’t need to worry about preferences.
Describe your involvement in the local community. I have been actively involved in the local community, having been involved on a few council committees such as the Knox Youth Council, Youth Events Crew, Affordable Housing Reference Group, Rowville Structure Plan Community Group, and Public Transport Consultation Committee with Knox City Council.
I have also been heavily involved with the Headspace Melbourne Outer East (Knox) from the beginning providing youth input into areas such as where it will be located. I’m also the Secretary and Treasurer (as well as a founding member) of Humans Vs Zombies Victoria Inc a youth led not for profit organisation which focuses on getting young people physically active and promoting social inclusion through the events that it runs.
I have over the years been a strong advocate for young people, public transport and affordable housing. I’m also involved in numerous amounts of festivals and events in my line of work. I’m also currently working with community groups to set up a youth leadership program focusing on debating skills.
What do you think being a councillor involves? I believe that a councillor's job is to represent the community, and act as an elected leader within the community. Councillors are elected to advocate and represent their ward in Council, councillors also need to be active in the community and understand what is happening in the community.
What do you think are the most important issues for your ward? Having listened to the community I’ve been able to identify a few key issues within the ward mainly: Improvements to public transport namely Rowville Rail; accessibility for elderly and disabled residents; giving young people a voice on council; transparency of council and accountability of councillors; moving from attendance voting to postal voting as well as an appropriate structure plan for Rowville.
What do you think are the most important issues facing Knox? With the northern parts of Knox been generally older in construction than the southern areas, upgrading infrastructure such as footpaths, roads, sewers, drainage etc need to be heavily invested in especially with higher density housing going up in areas such as Boronia and Bayswater. There also needs to be large amounts of investment and advocacy for public transport in Knox especially Rowville Rail and the Knox Tram – preferably extending it down the Burwood highway.
Transparency and accountability of council is a major issue with the community, been able to easily access what is said within council and been able to hold councillors accountable.
Moving from attendance voting to postal voting is also an issue, it is an unfair expectation for a Council election when the majority of other Councils hold postal voting’s – it’s cheaper and easier on the community.
There has been much debate about development in Knox recently, particularly in Boronia and green wedge zones. What are your thoughts on the future of planning in these areas? Are there any other areas’ future development needs to be addressed? Why? I am opposed to expanding the Urban Growth Boundaries, once that land is gone it is gone for good and I would prefer to have that land free for when we will one day need it for food production. I would prefer to have food security for my generation and my children’s generation. With the future planning structure plans need to have clear communication with residents and highlight the fact that you could potentially have a three story development next door to you. We do need to focus development in a centralised area where there is investment in the infrastructure to support such developments. In the future areas such as Rowville, Fern Tree Gully, Upper Fern Tree Gully, Wantirna, Bayswater and Mountain Gate are potential areas where future development might occur, it is vital that we focus development in key areas and ensure that those key areas near suitable infrastructure have all the resources needed to help them cope with future development needs.
What would you suggest the council could to do continue to advocate for better public transport in Knox (ie. the Knox Tram and Rowville Rail)? Continually meeting with members of the government and opposition to put forward the case of Public Transport in Knox especially with regards to Rowville Rail and the Knox Tram. Grass root community campaigns to advocate for improvements in public transport.
There has been strong debate recently about the extent of sport funding in Knox. Do you think sport deserves significant money or are there other groups or sectors in Knox who also deserve more funding? If so, who? There are a lot of community groups in Knox that could do with funding. I do know that some sports organisations are up against the wall, but even more need help with upgrading their club facilities most of which are owned by Council. Sports Clubs do require great deal of funding to make their facilities more inclusive for disabled residents both young and old. I would like to see funding going to arts groups especially around music, there is a lot of great musical talent in Knox and not a lot of opportunities to showcase it to the community. Youth groups/organisations are another area that could also do with funding due to their members not been well off financially.