Are you ready for this?
In Australia, there is a famous region called BENDIGO. It's apparently in the TOP 10 regions for global extraction of GOLD (aka Au).
The City of GreaterBendigo is less than two hours drive from Australia's 2nd biggest city. Capital of Victoria, Melbourne benefitted from the goldrushes in Ballarat, Bendigo and elsewhere.
Today, Greater Bendigo has a population of over 112,000. It is undergoing fast-growth, with a growth rate of about 1.7 percent.
A man of rare integrity and courage is standing for local government. Samuel is his name. Just like the Biblical prophet. He is walking in to a cesspit of a local government. He is a candidate in a sea of 32 candidates. The sea includes seven sitting Councillors. Five of them are said to be toxic and in it for themselves, their companies and their mates. They reportedly benefit from construction and rezoning of land. He believes in consultation - as do many candidates.
SAMUEL TSHISEKEDI is a black African man married to a Melissa from Boort near Charlton (western Victoria). He is a Church leader. We don't know if even he can save Bendigo from the State Government axe!!
Samuel is learned and well-travelled. He finally decided to do more than most people of faith. He threw his name in the hat to contest the LOCKWOOD WARD. The three electoral divisions or Wards are Eppalock, Lockwood and Whipstick. Each returns 3 Councillors.
Bendigo, many of the people, have issues with a proposed Mosque and later school in East Bendigo. There is a huge counter-attack by cultural elites and lately the media. There are Councillors and Candidates wanting an investigation into the Council Planning surrounding the Mosque and it's Applicant the controversial Australian Islamic Mission. brave leaders of this resistance include Councillors Elise Chapman (standing in Lockwood Ward), Helen Leach (Eppalock Ward) and also Julie Hoskin. Julie (Whipstick Ward) had worked in that very Planning department.
Samuel is contesting Lockwood Ward and recommends second preferences be given to Elise Chapman - and vice versa.
Lockwood is a highly controversial BATTLEFIELD.....
ROD FYFFE, Greater Bendigo Mayor for the past year, is standing for Council yet again. His claim to fame: He is a Career Councillor's Career Councillor. He has been Councillor for Bendigo (now Greater Bendigo) for THIRTY YEARS. Again, thirty!!
Fyffee, as past and present students call him, is a Mathematics teacher. Jeff Kennett sacked all Councils in Victoria in 1994 and replaced them with 3 Commissioners, so Cr Fyffe had an enforced holiday from 1994 to 1996 before resuming his Business Book of Records atempt.
So he has been the default winner of elections since Bob Hawke became Prime Minister of Australia? Other world leaders in 1983 were Mitterand, Thatcher and Reagan. Democracy in Greater Bendigo is veiled. He had been Mayor on four occasions. Councillor - 30 years, Mayor - four.
Houston, we have a problem! Bendigo needs fresh ideas - not a powerful bottleneck in the democratic process. it would take a determined Council manager to stand up to the stubborn thirty year veteran.