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Campaigning on community

06 Oct 2016

Campaigning on community Image

City of Melbourne council nominees and Southbank residents Joseph Sarraf and Mike Zverina are hoping to provide the community with a stronger voice.

The Freshwater Place residents formed a ticket for the upcoming City of Melbourne council elections with the mission of placing more power in the hands of the community.  

Councillor candidate Joseph Sarraf said when he moved to Southbank from Sydney two years ago he had immediately felt that something was missing.

“When I came to Southbank my first reaction was ‘where are the people, where’s the heart and soul when you’re actually walking around in Southbank?’ So automatically judging it as soulless, you wonder what are the underlying causes?” Joseph said.

“Talking with people and residents in and outside of Freshwater, there is a common theme of wanting something done but we just don’t seem to have that voice within council.”

Joseph is the descendent of proud political pedigree with both his father and grandfather having been active community and political figures over many years in his native Lebanon.

The career IT manager said community had always been a central part of who he was and that he wanted to restore greater balance to local governance in Southbank and more broadly across the city.

And having witnessed many of the issues Joseph wants to campaign on first-hand everyday in his capacity as building manager of Freshwater Place, Mike Zverina said he felt compelled to join the ticket.

“I see on a daily basis what’s happening with Southbank. I get feedback from the residents and I listen everyday to their problems and issues and unfortunately nobody listens,” Mike said.

“I’m seeing a lot of residents leaving the building. When I came here it had 48 per cent of apartments for rent and 52 per cent were owner-occupied. Now that figure has swapped around.”

The trend of residents moving away from Southbank has troubled both men and they said it was a strong reflection that council hadn’t been listening to the community for a long time.

Some of the local issues they hope to address, if elected, include green open space, community infrastructure and cycling and pedestrian safety along Southbank Promenade.

More broadly across the city, they are both passionate about improving sustainability, finding real solutions to helping Melbourne’s homeless community and limiting overdevelopment.

“The basis of it all is with the community and both Mike and my starting blocks are right here on the ground listening to the people, advising them on what’s coming up and making it more of a consultative process,” Joseph said.

“The underlying pillar of being a councillor is this thing called natural justice where, while you’re in council, you’re making decisions without bias based on your knowledge, research and feedback from community.”

With both men being new to the political process, Joseph said it had already been an exciting and eye-opening experience to date.

And while he has been directly exposed to the agendas of other candidates and the games of preferencing, he said the pair didn’t mind “burning a few bridges” if it meant not compromising on their commitment to serving the community.

“Having compromised my life by offering myself for council and having never sold myself out, I can always see through people. Doing deals might increase my chances of winning but no thank you,” he said.

“It makes me even more pleased that I did this because I can see how, in the past, others would work together to form a group irrespective of values just to get in.”

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