After two elections this year in quick succession, the brief lull in campaigning, for which many of us were grateful, is over. Even though not until next September, jockeying is already under way for the 2020 council election. In fact, there have been indications of councillors champing at the bit for the race to begin for some months now.
Septuagenerian Greg Watson, a council veteran of more than four decades, declared in a media release on Tuesday that the opening shots had been fired with his naming of a team to run in ward 1. But those first shots were actually fired last week, with a silencer, when the Liberal Party agreed to call a meeting this Wednesday to vote on running a ticket.
According to our sources, there is overwhelming support among local members to stand a field of candidates under the blue banner. It's a move which would sweep aside the longstanding and quite laughable practice of candidates with Liberal Party membership running as independents. We expect to see young lawyer Paul Ell (pictured), a key ally of Kiama MP Gareth Ward, throw his hat into the ring.
It will be interesting to see whether former Gilmore MP and mayor Jo Gash will make a bid for preselection and, if she does, how local members will respond after her very public support for Nationals candidate Katrina Hodgkinson at the federal election in May.
One outspoken councillor with Liberal affiliations but who stood with Greg Watson's Shoalhaven Independents won't be in the race. Andrew Guile has made no secret of his intention to bow out of local politics, now that he's moved out of the area.
Early rumblings of the kick-off to the local government election were detected some time ago, with Greens mayor Amanda Findley sporting a fresh image makeover and a more energetic media presence. We understand she will once again run for mayor but not as a ward councillor. There is talk of a preference swap between the Labor and Greens candidates but whether this will amount to electoral success is anyone's guess.
One time member of Team Gash John Wells will run as a Shoalhaven Independent along with Selena Clancy.
Borrowing from the language of disgraced US president Richard Nixon, Cr Watson makes reference to the "silent majority", which he says will have a strong voice in council. Sounds like it's game on.