Fear and loathing on the campaign trail, part 1

In the first instalment of what we hope will be a very occasional series, Pauline tackles the dodgy tactics and smear attempts she’s coming across as an independent candidate in the Inner West Council election.

Don’t get me wrong. Most aspects of campaigning are lovely.

I’m meeting lots of wonderful people when out doorknocking, many of whom are really excited to hear that there’s a genuine independent running in their ’hood.

I’ve had lots of old friends reach out to say how proud they are that I’m doing this – which is all the more humbling given how little I’ve seen many of them since WestConnex blew up my old life.

And thanks to the joys of social media, I’ve even managed to reconnect with an old friend I haven’t seen since primary school when she spotted my campaign launch announcement.

So all that and more has been really great. What’s been less than great has been observing how some pollies have reacted to news of my announcement.

Last week, I was very disappointed to hear former councillor and Liberal Party pre-selection hopeful Julie Passas use the Inner West Council (IWC) meeting to raise some serious – and, I’m glad to say, unfounded – questions about my election funding.

In short, Ms Passas questioned whether my candidacy has been funded by Council via the WestCONnex Action Group (WAG).

As I said in a letter I wrote to the Administrator the next day, I was deeply concerned Ms Passas chose the Council meeting – a public forum that is streamed live on YouTube and the Council website, and remains publicly available on both sites – to raise such serious allegations, which are entirely without merit.

WestCONnex Action Group (WAG) is not, and will not, be funding my election campaign. WAG hasn’t received any funding from the IWC or its Administrator, and does not have access to or control over the funding that has been provided by IWC for a community organiser to work on the stop WestConnex campaign. The person employed in that role is not assisting my campaign in any way.

As an independent candidate, my campaign is funded by me, and the wonderful folks who’ve made donations to my campaign (all of which I’ll be fully and transparently disclosing as per legislative requirements).

Perhaps I’m being naïve, but I think it’s completely unacceptable that an experienced former Ashfield councillor and paid member of the Council’s LRAC – who, by her own admission, is seeking preselection for the Liberal Party – would use the Council meeting to attempt to smear my reputation (or that of any other political rival), along with the integrity of WAG and the Council itself.

I really hope Council meetings and forums aren’t used for such attacks against any member of the public in future. I certainly wouldn’t allow this if I’m elected to Council.

And I’m glad another former councillor and fellow independent candidate, John Stamolis (Balmain ward), took the time to address these comments later in the meeting, referring to them as “dreadful”, “highly inappropriate” and “uncharacteristic of any words that any councillor generally makes”.

Since I'm not taking cash from Inner West Council to fund my campaign - I need your help! Come along to my campaign launch on Saturday 15 July - or if you can't make that, you can make a donation here.

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