A BENDIGO council candidate says councillors should be using social media more to engage with residents.
Thomas Prince is again running to represent residents of the Whipstick Ward.
He secured 11.66 per cent of the ward's first preference votes in 2016.
Announcing his candidacy this week, Mr Prince said the global pandemic highlighted an area of leadership Bendigo council was "probably lacking".
"In a time of social distancing, we've got a great platform like social media we can use," the 30-year-old said.
"And, aside from the mayor, not a single councillor uses it to engage with their community.
"Considering we're disconnected, this is an amazing tool to be using. So that's something I'm really looking forward to getting a hold of."
Mr Prince had community engagement and keeping residents informed about COVID-19 restrictions in mind when he raised the issue of social media and leadership.
However, a Facebook post was a factor in criticism former Eppalock Ward councillor Yvonne Wrigglesworth received for her views on the use of "ring girls" at a high-profile boxing match in Bendigo last year.
Ms Wrigglesworth resigned from council in September, citing a difference in values.
She was not the only Bendigo councillor that publicly raised concerns the use of "ring girls" was "not in step" with the messages the city - one of the event's sponsors - wanted to promote.
Mr Prince acknowledged social media was "fraught with danger".
"But it has great upsides. You've just got to be smart with it. If you're promoting the right things..." he said.
Mr Prince said gender equity was one of the "right things" to be promoting, but had to be balanced with representing the views of the community.
"She [Ms Wrigglesworth] was on some levels but there was also a response from the majority of the community that they weren't a big fan of it," he said.
"Both sides say, 'Yes, we support gender equity'. But both sides disagree on whether that's a gender equity issue."
Experts were in no doubt about whether the use of "ring girls" at the match warranted concern.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was among those to discourage the use of women as decorations at sporting events.
Bendigo council has since endorsed a Gender Equity Strategy, as part of a broader coalition.
Mr Prince said he "wouldn't touch" gender equity issues on his social media accounts "unless I felt there was... the strong majority was pointing in one direction."
He said he was motivated to run again for council to give back to his community.
"The way I was brought up was just always about giving back," Mr Prince said.
"So whether it was through soccer clubs and different community groups as a kid, I've always been taught that way.
"As I got older I realised how much I really loved Bendigo, so combining the skills that I have with working with people and the passion I have for this city, it just seems like a great opportunity to combine the two."
Involvements included the Spring Gully Soccer Club, Bendigo Dragons Gridiron Club, volunteering as seeing eye dog trainer at Vision Australia, and working at Bendigo Wholefoods and Babylon Lounge.
Mr Prince said he had learned from his 2016 campaign.
"I try to focus on a positive campaigning and keeping an uplifting message," he said.
"Over the last four years, listening to people, they tend to like that. But what they really wanted was to get into the specifics.
"Listen to the community and come back to us and talk about how I'm going to help fix the city."
He believed waste management remained a huge issue for both the Whipstick Ward and the broader council.
"In 2016, it was the biggest issue we were facing as a council," Mr Prince said.
"We're here four years on and we still haven't dealt with it.
"Our landfill is about to run out next year and we've got nowhere for our waste to go. So we need to get that back on the agenda and we need to deal with that problem right now."
He believed the council needed to invest in infrastructure as communities in the Whipstick Ward grew, going so far as to say it was "completely lacking" in areas such as Long Gully and California Gully.
"It would be really good to develop some of their community spaces and connect their suburban spaces with footpaths," Mr Prince said, asked what he meant by infrastructure.
He also said the next Bendigo council would need to be mindful of its spending, given the financial effects of the global pandemic.
Mr Prince said he did not have an affiliation with any political party.
"I'm strongly against political parties being represented on a local level. I don't believe it's got a place here," he said.
Liberal Party Bendigo branch chair Matthew Evans is among the other declared candidates for council, standing for the Eppalock Ward.
He is not running as an endorsed Liberal candidate for Bendigo council; the party does not endorse candidates for local government elections in Victoria.
Dave Fagg is among the other Whipstick Ward candidates.
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