The choice is yours

GRASSROOTS democracy is at play in the Morwell electorate with a community pre-selection ballot to be sent to every household in a push for an independent candidate.

Amid reports Morwell Neighbourhood House coordinator Tracie Lund is the likely independent candidate for Morwell, the Latrobe Valley 1st movement has announced a community-led selection process with two other potential candidates, David Wakefield and Hilde Rombout.

Ms Lund said she was hopeful she would be the independent candidate, but would get behind whoever the community chose.

“The reason Latrobe Valley 1st formed was to speak to the community and talk with them and get them engaged in the political environment that we have. This speaks to grassroots democracy; it supports that,” Ms Lund said.

“Whoever wins the ballot can go forward in confidence that they have the community backing and support and they’ve had a chance to have a say. This has never been done before and it’s exciting for them to choose their own candidate.”

Mr Wakefield lives in Yinnar South and is a married father of three, involved with ReActivate Latrobe and volunteers at Yinnar South Primary School.

He has also worked in a variety of fields, including construction, farming and the arts.

“I’m excited by the possibility of a whole new approach to the way in which we can be represented. We’re trying an active way of engaging with people that opens up an ongoing conversation,” Mr Wakefield said.

Ms Rombout is a Yallourn North resident, mother, grandmother and retired psychologist and teacher, currently volunteering at Gippsland Multicultural Services.

She said she was concerned about the Latrobe Valley’s welfare and was eager to seek solutions to the lack of employment, reduced education opportunities, infrastructure, diminishing health care, and the effects of the Hazelwood mine fire.

Latrobe Valley First president Gilio Barbara said the group had called for independent candidate applications, interviewed and shortlisted applicants.

“Now the people of the Latrobe Valley will decide who will be their independent candidate,” Mr Barbara said.

“Our candidate will not be chosen by a backroom deal between faceless men, but instead by the people of the Latrobe Valley. Non-Australian citizens and people over 16 years of age will also be eligible to vote in the ballot.”

Ballots are due to be arrive in letterboxes between 15 and 19 September with votes closing on 29 September.