John Freeman was voted out of office as Lord Mayor of Hobart because he rode roughshod over the people who lived in his domain. Hubris got him. The alternative was the affable Rob Valentine, who was a welcome change. But it wore off.
Rob Valentine is a nice guy. He is hard working. He goes everywhere at the drop of a hat. He opens endless exhibitions and events, turns up at endless functions and always appears pleased to be doing so. He also works part-time as a bureaucrat in the Department of Health and Community Services. (Not that many people in the community seem to know that he has a job other than that of Lord Mayor).
The trouble with Rob is that he lacks backbone.
No, he’s not lazy. Far from it. But he lacks Freeman’s drive to get things done.
And he’s fearful. Fearful of giving offence. As a journalist with the Mercury for many years, I know. On the one hand, Rob is great. If you ring for an opinion, he will always give one and if you don’t get him, he will always return your call. On the other hand, he will ring back to clarify something he might have said, not just once, but again and again and again, until what he has to say is totally inoffensive. I’m not saying he hasn’t taken a stand on anything, but the general consensus among journalists is that he doesn’t stand for much.
It’s probably the desire to please that makes him vulnerable to attack in council debates, especially from Marti Zucco, quite apart from lacking the numbers to push anything through. Indeed, from my observation, it is Freeman who controls Council, not Valentine.
I have voted for Jeff Briscoe.
Given Valentine’s public popularity, Briscoe is unlikely to get up.
Valentine is a shrewd operator: he works hard at being liked in the community, unlike Freeman, who didn’t give a rats what people thought of him and paid the price. I also voted for Briscoe because I believe it’s time for a change. Yes, I think there should be a limit on terms of office in local government.
It was reported on ABC Local Radio this morning (Wednesday 24th) that only 30% of Hobart City Council electors had returned their ballot papers. So, for those readers yet to do so, I say give Briscoe a chance. If he should win and falls over, he’ll be voted out at the next election and who knows, a dynamic new Valentine might return to office.
It’s time for a change. Time for a new Lord Mayor of Hobart. Time for Rob Valentine to go.