Well-respected socialist activist Sue Bolton is recontesting her position as councillor for the North East Ward in Melbourne's City of Moreland Council election.
Bolton, a member of Socialist Alliance, was elected in 2012 on a platform of “Community need, not developer greed”.
An experienced working-class activist, Bolton was born in western Queensland, and worked (among other things) as a bus driver and public servant, and has been an active trade unionist over many years.
Bolton told Green Left Weekly that she is proud of her record on council, working to help residents organise and fight to bring about progressive changes to the City of Moreland.
Bolton's many achievements on council so far include: setting up the Save Coburg campaign; helping residents fight inappropriate development; and founding the Moreland campaign against the unpopular East West Link toll road.
The fight against the East West Link was a significant campaign across several council areas and it ultimately brought down the former Victorian Liberal state government in November 2014.
Early in her time on council, Bolton took up the campaign to save the Ballerrt Mooroop Aboriginal site — formerly Ballerrt Mooroop College — which was closed in 2012 by the Victorian government. Recently, Bolton won council support for a treaty with the Wurundjeri people.
Persistent work by Bolton resulted in the council reinstating a respite service for children with disabilities and the elderly. She has also won council support for affordable housing, as well as upgrades to playground and other community facilities in Fawkner — one of the poorer suburbs in Moreland.
Her strong commitment to social justice has meant that Bolton has opposed rate rises above inflation, campaigned for the council to open heat relief centres during extreme heat waves, to improve community transport and for Moreland Council to divest from fossil fuels.
Bolton is also a long-term campaigner for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. She came under heavy fire from the far right, sections of the media, the police and some of the local traders for organising a community rally in May to challenge racism and Islamophobia. They had all tried to stop it from happening.
Bolton explained that she organised the successful event “for the community to say in the strongest possible terms that it rejects racism” — whether against First Nations peoples, refugees and asylum seekers or people of Muslim backgrounds. “They are not our enemy. Our enemy is the government and its policies towards these oppressed minorities”, she said at the time.
In her bid for re-election, Bolton highlighted her opposition to rate rises and fee increases for basic council services. She wants an end to the privatisation and outsourcing of council services, better public transport and more public housing. She is also campaigning for an open, democratic and accountable council, for improved local amenities and to make Moreland a leader in environmental sustainability.
“We can achieve all this by rapidly moving Moreland to zero local emissions, improving water use and capture, supporting urban cooling programs and protecting residents from the impacts of climate change, such as heatwaves,” Bolton explained.
Bolton's principled and grassroots community-minded approach stands out from the veritable parade of career-minded “snouts-in-the-trough” major party politicians — many of whom use local councils as a stepping stone towards pre-selection to run for higher office.
“In a capitalist world where corporate greed influences decisions and actively blocks social progress, we can't trust politicians or unelected bureaucrats to make positive changes on our behalf. We need to do it ourselves by uniting as a community and speaking up,” she said.
[Bolton's campaign launch will be held on September 10 from 6.30pm at the Anatolian Cultural Centre, 195 Sydney Road Coburg. For more information on the campaign click here. You can also donate to her campaign.]