Occupation: Director of Betty Boo Wigs and Costumes
Affiliation: Running on a ticket with Anne Napoli and Paul Rossetto
Standing for: Mayor and councillor
1. Obvious question first. You face a trial on serious criminal charges one month after the election, do you think it is responsible to run with this hanging over your head and the possibility of a costly by-election soon after?
There are two issues with that. One, I’m innocent and don’t think I need to adjust my life to suit that (the trial). The other thing is, if I had chosen not to run I wouldn’t be able to come back in October and say I’m cleared, everything is fine, let’s get on with it. The election is not about the court matter and if that’s a fixation of a few running against me then that’s their call. I’ve got to get on with my life – I’ve been involved in some good things in my 12 years on council and I would like to see them finished.
2. You’ve consistently polled very strong numbers in previous elections, how much of that support do you think you have lost in the wake of the controversy surrounding the trial?
I think certainly some of my adversaries have tried to make a lot of it and it’s certainly been publicised, but at the end of the day the allegations have been made and they’ll be dealt with. My support base, whether real or unreal, is up to the electorate. I’ve certainly been able to perform my duties and finish the job I was unanimously elected to do. It’s (the trial) certainly been made more of by the media, and not just the local. But if as much time was spent focusing on the positive things we have done then there wouldn’t be as much of an issue as has been made of it.
3. Your influence and strong style of leadership had led to allegations of you running a “Mikeopoly” up at council, is that a fair analysis of your leadership style?
He (Brian Hopper) can call it a Mikeopoly if he wants to – at least he acknowledges I’ve done something. What I have always tried to do, and will continue to do, is give everyone the opportunity to come to the table, argue their point and make a decision. All I ask is that when that decision is made to accept it and move on. Eleven councillors and a mayor have been working together for the last four years and we haven’t always agreed, but that’s a democracy – it’s like parliament.
4. Most people see you as the most competent and qualified of the group for the job of leading the city, what will be your priorities as mayor if elected for another term?
My first priority is to make sure the big projects are finished, like the community private hospital. Personally, I’ve been working on the rail freight terminal and getting funds for it. Hopefully the alternate airline will come good and I want to continue to push for a Melbourne service and a more flexible Sydney service. It’s also key to consolidate the community committee structures – there are some areas that haven’t worked as well as they should have because they weren’t universally supported. Also, some councillors are on more committees than others and that should be rectified.
5. Few would argue the current council isn’t divided along factional lines, if elected will you change your style of leadership to better work with people like John Dal Broi and Dino Zappacosta?
The issue there isn’t council acquiescing to a minority, but the minority acquiescing to council. There are always going to be differences of opinion and that’s healthy as there needs to be alternate solutions and proposals. But when a decision is made in the chamber then councillors should stick to it not run out whinging it’s not right. My role as civic leader and mayor is to arbitrate on decisions and I always give people to chance to have their say and I listen to them.