Three people have jumped at a second chance to represent Dimboola and surrounds at a council level.
The Victorian Electoral Commission has released the candidates for Hindmarsh Shire's East Ward Byelection, which is taking place by postal ballot on December 5.
Nominations for the ward closed on Wednesday, after only one person, Debra Nelson, nominated to fill the two council positions in the ward during the 2020 Victorian Local Government Elections in October.
Cr Nelson has been elected unopposed. Here are the three people looking to join her at the table.
Ms Bywaters served as a councillor on the shire from 2012 to 2016, including two years as deputy Mayor.
She was also a candidate for the West Ward, covering Nhill, at the October elections. In this race she was beaten by the other two candidates, Melanie Albrecht and Rob Gersch.
In her candidate statement, Ms Bywaters says: "I am committed to seeing our farming district thrive; a community where all residents are heard and valued, where we have well-maintained roads, amenities, infrastructure and with services of a high standard.
"As a graduate of the Wimmera Development Association, Business Leaders Program, and having experience running a successful farm machinery business, Airbnb, as well as renovating homes for resale, I have a thorough understanding of business. With my knowledge, passion, and enthusiasm, I have a vision to nurture local innovation and develop social and economic growth for Hindmarsh.
Ms Bywaters told the Mail-Times she would listen to the community to learn about what it wanted if elected.
"When I looked at the East Ward for the by-election, I noticed there was only one nomination," she said. "I thought I could give it an election, and now there are three nominations.
"There are many farmers around our farm that have told me in the past they don't know their candidates because they come to Nhill instead of Dimboola, so I will be able to give them a face they do know. It's not about me, it's about the people and what they want."
Costa Di Biase
Mr Di Biase moved to Dimboola from Dunolly eight months ago, and ran for the Australian Country Party at the 2018 Victorian State Election.
He is a father of two and is currently working as a courier. He said he had decided against putting his hand up during the first round of nominations because he was new to town.
"It's not that I didn't want to, I just thought no one would know who I was," he said. "When I saw no one else had run and there was a vacancy, I decided to run. All councillors bring their particular talents to the table.
"Other than roads, rates and rubbish, my priority is resilience. Resilience to emergencies both natural and social: This pandemic is really a social emergency, our whole society has been affected by people being out of work and supply chain issues."
Mr Di Biase ran for state parliament on a platform of reassessing how farmers' rates were calculated. He said this remained a priority of his two years later.
"I'm not saying what is there is wrong, but it needs to be looked at again. I would like to have a proper discussion on the issue," he said.
"The problem is farmers in the Wimmera are big companies: There are not really family farms anymore, or if they are it's a multi-employee farm. In Central Victoria where I used to be by comparison, a lot of them are sole operations."
Mr Di Biase said the most recent council had supported Dimboola with investments such as the new Library, which opened at the end of October.
Mr Johnson said "peer pressure" was partly behind his bid for a council seat.
He said a lot of people had asked him to run in the first election in October, but he chose not to.
"When it came to a by-election, the pressure mounted on me again, and by Monday night, after seeing only one candidate had nominated, I thought it was important I did do it," he said.
"I've been a supporter of what's been happening in Dimboola for the last five years, transforming from an old railway town into a tourist destination. When I first came to Dimboola five years ago, that was the grand plan.
"I would like to see those projects continue, and to push for more of that sort of stuff, especially events. We can't rest on our laurels, we have to come up with new innovative ideas to support businesses that want to open up here without hindrance from the council."
Mr Johnson is treasurer of the Dimboola RSL Sub Branch, secretary of Dimboola Bowling Club and involved in the rowing club and town band.
He said supporting the community would be a core value of his if elected.
"The community is finding it difficult due to COVID: They haven't met for months and their plans have been put on hold," he said.
"I think they will need a lot of support in the next two years to get over the problems they have."
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