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Mayor in political social media dispute

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The poster at the scene of the dispute
Photo by Peter Gandolfi

by S Lowe 5THE FM newsonline wattlerangenow

Wattle Range Mayor Peter Gandolfi tweeted his disgust after a political party’s poster for the coming State Election was attached to a flagpole at the Millicent Cross of Sacrifice.

With the State Election just two weeks away, the Local Government Association (LGA) tweeted the rules of Political Party Election signage on Sunday morning, saying Councils are only interested in safety, not candidate disputes.  However, Wattle Range Council Mayor Peter Gandolfi found himself in the centre of an on-going social media storm with political candidate Mr Bill Denny.

Mr Gandolfi responded to the LGA tweet saying  he had seen a political party sign attached to the flag pole at the Cross of Sacrifice at the Millicent Memorial Gardens,  he thought it was disgraceful and should attract a fine if it wasn’t removed.

A supporting tweet followed from the political party ‘Your Voice Matters’, saying they also thought it was disgraceful.

Mr Gandolfi took a photo of the sign and tweeted, that it was their (Your Voice Matters) sign.

“At no time did I say they put it there,” he told 5THEFM/wattlerangenow.

Your Voice Matters is an alliance of three former servicemen who will contest the next State Election,  and between them they have seen service in six wars or peacekeeping operations, and have served the nation for over 80 years.

“Until yesterday I didn’t know they existed, it was not an attack on them or the service they have given to their country, I respect all of our servicemen and women but at the end of the day they are a political party and need to take responsibility for their signage,” the Mayor said.

Your Voice Matters Lead Candidate Mr Bill Denny AM spoke with 5THE FM/wattlerangenow and said:-

“Last week the Your Voice Matters group, per one of their members, visited Millicent. Rob Atkinson arrived on Thursday and among other things he carefully erected a Your Voice Matters poster on a stobie pole near the pub in the Main Street. We would like to erect more posters, but we are funding our campaign out of our own pockets and at $6 per sign it takes an awful lot to cover even half the State! On Sunday all hell broke loose!”

“It appears that someone removed the sign and affixed it to the flagpole adjacent the war memorial in park opposite its original location. That is bad enough, but what followed was downright insulting.”

Mr Denny, questioned if Mr Gandolfi’s tweets were politically motivated saying,

“Mayor Gandolfi made no attempt whatsoever to check the facts, he simply launched into what some regard as a politically inspired attack on a minor independent party.”

Mr Denny said, “Moreover Mayor Gandolfi did not even remove the offending poster from its new and clearly illegal location!”

“Having railed about its presence, he simply left it there, commented on how offensive it was then  – strangely – wrote that someone would remove it on Monday “to get the flag up.”

Mr Gandolfi said, “Regardless of which political party it represented, it was offensive and no-one from this party has  contacted me to ask me to take it down and as Mayor I have no legal authority to tamper with any party’s political signage.”

“There is a process in a case like this is – an authorised officer can direct the responsible party to remove it and if that fails, Council will then remove it.”

“If Mr Denning thinks their party’s sign has been the object of  vandalism, he would be advised  to make a report to the police,” the Mayor said.

“They are an Adelaide based political party, they swing through our town and put up a poster, and should accept responsibility for their signs. With rights comes responsibility,” Mr Gandolfi said.

Mr Denny said, “Why didn’t he (Mayor Gandolfi) just ring us up – tell us our poster had been moved and leave it up to us to fix the problem? That would have been the moral and honest way to approach this issue – investigate, communicate  and solve the problem in a way that benefits all.”

”That is how politics should be conducted,” said Mr Denny.

“ If they had called and asked me to take down their sign I would have,” said Mr Gandolfi.