St George residents will go to the polls this Saturday to vote, for the first time, in elections for their new council areas.
The opportunity to freely take part in choosing our elected leaders is both a right and a privilege.
When you're feeling annoyed that heading to the polling booth on a Saturday is cutting into your weekend, spare a thought for those millions around the world who never get to vote, living under dictatorships and other systems of government which render them voiceless.
But the equation works both ways: if we are to have the right to vote, our vote should mean something.
And that’s why it is disappointing to know that there are dummy candidates in this weekend’s poll subverting our democracy.
Flooding the ballot paper with names of people who have no intention of winning and are standing only to deliver their preferences to another candidate is confusing for voters and arguably gives some an unfair advantage.
This means we, as voters, need to do some research and ask candidates about where they are directing their preferences to find out if that is something we support.
Among the candidates standing for Bayside and Georges River councils are many former councillors on the old Kogarah, Hurstville and Rockdale councils.
The obvious question is: do these people deserve to be re-elected?
Did they do the right thing and fight for their communities while on the formerly mentioned councils? Were they accessible to ratepayers? Did they respond to questions and concerns? Did they contribute to a smoothly operating council with the best interests of their communities? Did they behave in a professional manner?
Or were they self-serving having lost sight of who put them there in the first place? Did they contribute to dysfunctional local government which made it easy for the state government to move on council mergers? Did they just vote on party lines in accordance with the faceless men at head office or did they represent you, the resident?
Don’t ignore the new faces at this election but instead consider what they can bring to the table - a fresh approach, new ideas a commitment to community.
This week and this weekend don’t take your vote for granted. You can make a difference.
Think about your vote and use your voice.