October’s Adelaide City Council election is being touted as a fight between new and old Adelaide, and there’s only a couple of days left to secure a ringside seat by enrolling to vote.
The other election is coming
At 30 years old Robert Simms has done a surprising amount of things, including running for seats in two state elections, passing the bar as a lawyer, working for two federal senators, teaching at university and stints as a journalist.
If you’re not enrolled to vote at your correct city address – whether it be business or residential – by August 8, you can’t take part in the upcoming elections. All you have to do is fill out an online form. C’mon.
This year – as he trains his eyes on a spot as an area wide Councillor in the Adelaide City elections – will be the first time he has run for local council.
“I think it’s a really exciting time to be in Adelaide and I’m keen to try and contribute to that change,” he says.
Rob agrees with incumbent Lord Mayor, Stephen Yarwood, that Adelaide is at a “crossroads” and he believes this election could push the city in one direction or another.
“I think there’s two very different versions of Adelaide that we’re seeing coming to the fore this time,” he says. “I think Stephen is right in that characterisation [of Adelaide] and certainly what we’ve seen in the last four years is a real transformation and I’d like to see us continue down that path.”
Change is a recurring theme in the chat CityMag has with Robert as we sit in Victoria Square on one of the coldest mornings Adelaide has seen since the 1800s.
He admits that it could be seen as naïve, but even after time spent as a staffer in Canberra’s political offices, Rob still thinks being a politician will help him change the world.
“There’s a lot of cynicism in public life and in politics in this country,” he says. “But ultimately, I’m someone who has quite strong values and I like to think of myself as a person of conviction and I know where I stand on issues. People might not always agree with what I’m doing, but that’s fine and at least if I know where I stand they can vote for me or not on that basis.
“There’s only so much you can do behind the scenes and when you’re out there campaigning you can put your own values and issues to the fore as well.”
The issues Robert hopes to push as he enters campaign mode revolve around renewable energy targets for the city and North Adelaide; the introduction of environmental design standards; extensive community consultation on development issues and a plan to continue enlivening the city by extending the free WiFi network, supporting entrepreneurs and growing small bar and live music culture.
He also stands on a platform of diversity – hoping to give voice in council to groups who might have been under-represented, such as the LGBTI community, migrants and young people – for whom he hopes to save or rebuild the city skate park.
Rob is an early candidate announcement, and as we count down the weeks to the election there will surely be many more nominations with many more policy directions. City and North Adelaide residents or business owners need to enrol to vote by August 8.
Get all the information you need about voting here.