A former Brimbank mayor and member of the sacked council of 2009 will run in October’s municipal elections.
Margaret Giudice said she intends running for council as democracy is “long overdue” in Brimbank.
Another former mayor, Sam David, who was also a member of the dismissed council, told Star Weekly he was “40-60” in favour of running, but said it was too early to commit.
Ms Giudice, who was found to have breached the Local Government Act by the Victorian Ombudsman for submitting misleading expense forms for her mobile phone, insisted she’d use two phones – one for personal use and another for council business – if elected.
“There was a lot of innuendo around that [phone use],” she said. “If I’m ringing somebody because I’m going to be late because I’m in the middle of a council meeting, is that a personal or a professional call?”
She admitted to the Ombudsman she was “not diligent enough in verifying my telephone accounts”.
Ms Giudice, who said she’d relinquished her Labor Party membership, said new councillors needed to ignore “outside influences” and focus on “the facts in front of them”.
SAM DAVID. PICTURE: WAYNE HAWKINS
“Ninety-nine per cent of issues have nothing to do with party politics,” she said.
“Councillors must be able to read and write English – I know that sounds terrible, but there are so many reports you have to read.
“We had good councillors [in the past]; we had councillors who left a lot to be desired.”
Sunshine Residents and Ratepayers Association president Darlene Reilly did not welcome news former councillors intend standing again.
“My first reaction is absolute dread and disappointment,” she said. “Nothing has changed if they get in. It’s going backwards. It will send the Brimbank community backwards into a time warp. They’ve been proven to be not fit to hold office, and they have the gall to run again. It just amazes me.”
However, Ms Giudice said her decision to run had been a popular one.
“A lot of people have asked me to run again,” she said. “I did a good job. I don’t think I could be a better councillor [than I was], I was a very good councillor; my record speaks for itself.”
The Ombudsman found Ms Giudice was part of a ruling faction while mayor in 2006-07.
Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins last year called for “fresh faces” at coming elections, but said she believed the sacked group “bore the wrath” of previous councils.