Scandal and dirty tactics part of plot

THE WRITING team for Days Of Our Lives could create a season's worth of storylines based on the drama, slander and sabotage that has emerged in the lead-up to next weekend's local government elections.

While scandals and dirty tactics are usually associated with Federal politics, during the past four weeks all five local council campaigns have had their fair share of drama.

Political posters have been pulled down and defaced, letters have been written questioning the background and motivation of standing candidates, and alleged intimidation tactics have been used at pre-polling booths.

Southern Cross University lecturer in sociology, Dr Angela Coco, said it was not out of the ordinary for people to resort to extreme actions when in situations where they want to win.

However, Dr Coco said a candidate's desire to win was different to that which emerged in athletes during a sporting match.

“In politics, the idea of winning is connected to a belief that you are the right person for a job,” she said.

“Usually it's motivated by passion, which isn't always connected to logic or ethics.”

Dr Coco said people in such circumstances often, when normal means of persuasion did not work; turned to the use of more forceful methods.

The step-up from heated debate to vandalism was not appreciated by Ballina Shire Council candidate Louise Owen who had campaign signs removed from the Coast Road at Lennox Head.

“It's just child-like and very un-Australian,” she said.

“But it doesn't really bother me, because I guess it just means I am threatening people who want to get into council.

“I know there are people in the community who don't agree with my views, but the mature way to deal with that is just to talk to me.”

Ms Owen also said she had been disappointed that candidates had 'been intimidating towards each other at pre-polling booths' and had spent so much energy writing letters to the paper complaining about each other.

First time Kyogle candidate Tony Baron said the drama and confrontations involved with running a campaign for local council had shocked him.

“It's definitely been worse than I thought,” he said.

“But I suppose because Kyogle is a small town you have to expect gossip and insularity.”

While the consequences of councillors using dirty tactics could result in a failed campaign, Kyogle councillor Peter Lewis said he also feared gossip could affect his local business.

Cr Lewis said he had heard of situations where customers had decided not to shop at a particular business because of the owner's political stance or as a way to protest against one of their council decisions.

“Being in business you are exposed to people who say 'I don't like him, so I'll have a go at his businesses,” he said.

Despite the recent local dramas, Dr Coco said Australia was fairly moderate in expressing political views compared with other nations.

“There are many ways to communicate and achieve what you want, and I suppose some are more subversive than others,” Dr Coco said.

What people are saying

“It is pathetic and un-Australian, everybody deserves a fair go. We will put every sign right back up, so you are wasting your time and energy.”

Grace and Katy Owen, Lennox Head. Letter appearing in The Northern Star on September 5 regarding the removal of Ballina candidate Louise Owen's political signs on the Coast Road.

“I say, boot the old boys out (some are so old they could cause a by-election by falling off their perch in the next four years).”

Ballina councillor Margaret Howes. Letter appearing in The Northern Star on September 4 questioning older councillors running for election in Ballina.

“It seems there is more interest in what I do for a living than what I stand for as a prospective mayor/councillor.”

Lismore mayoral candidate Neil Marks. Letters appearing on August 28 regarding Lismore mayoral candidate Neil Marks, who is also an announcer on Radio 2LM.

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