Greek Australian Vasilios Tsalkos running for Councillor in Darebin West Ward, Melbourne

Greek Australian Vasilios Tsalkos is proud to be a candidate for Darebin West Ward (Melbourne) in the upcoming elections in October.

Over the years, he has devoted time and energy to work for his community because he is passionate about the people in his community and their needs.

“I’m excited to be running in this year’s Darebin City Council elections. I am a proud local that is excited for the future and how we can build our community. No doubt, 2020 has been a challenging year and being able to build and thrive our community moving forward is crucial. The timing for a strong voice on local issues is more important than ever,” Vasilios says.

As a young professional, he has a deep understanding of the challenges businesses face and is a huge advocate for shopping local and supporting the local economy.

“I love Darebin, and want to see it thrive and grow, and be the best place to live in. Together we can build Darebin and see it prosper.”

Greek Australian Vasilios Tsalkos running for Councillor in Darebin West Ward, Melbourne

GCT recently had the opportunity to speak to Vasilios about the upcoming elections and his vision for Darebin West Ward.

When and why did you become involved in politics?

I have always loved living in Darebin and I am proud to call it home. Being so involved within the community over the years has made me appreciate all aspects of this, and I believe that I am now in a position to give more to the community. I want to be their voice, with respect and fairness for all.

Why did you choose to run as an independent candidate for Darebin West Ward?

I have lived in the area for over 25 years.  I love this part of Melbourne. Our West Ward is a vibrant and colourful pocket and I am running for council as an independent in order to hold the council accountable and do what is right for the community. There has never been a more appropriate time for strong, local and independent voices in our local Government.

I strongly believe that:

  • It’s time to stop party affiliated political agendas and start becoming a truly local and independent Council;
  • It’s time for transparent governance; and
  • It’s time to get things done.

What issues need to be addressed in your ward?

Firstly, we can’t ignore the challenging times we find ourselves in.  All of us have been affected by Covid-19. Covid-19 recovery will require strong leadership and action to help rebuild and grow our economy. This will be my priority- assisting business rebuild and providing them with tools to do so.

In addition, for over 40 years our residents have been promised an extension to the Route 11 tram which we need to push forward with and get done. Our “crown jewel” Edwardes Lake is polluted and needs some love and attention, as well as addressing concerns following the local police station moving from the heart of Reservoir.

I am hopeful that our next elected representatives can address these issues plus many more in all areas of Darebin.

Running as an independent, have you had a lot of support?

Running as an independent was a priority for me as I wanted to have the best interests of the community at heart, without any political agendas holding me back. Whilst it has been a challenge to run solo, I have had a tight support network by my side keeping me focused and on track.

How has your Greek background influenced you in both your career and political life?

I am extremely proud of my Greek heritage. It has shaped my life and me as a person a great deal. In 2015 I became one of the founding members of the Hellenic Cultural Association of Melbourne “O Periklis”, taking on the public relations role and most recently President, since 2019.

Joining the organising committee of the Antipodes Festival (Lonsdale Street Greek Festival) has allowed me to help showcase and share our vibrant culture that we are all so proud of.

I have drawn inspiration from my grandparents who migrated to Australia for a better life. They worked hard and tirelessly, and it is because of the foundations they built that my family and I have the life we do today. I am always pushing myself to conquer obstacles and challenges which stand in the way of my goals, which makes me a stronger person and helps me to achieve my best.

Has covid-19 fundamentally transformed politics? What is your stance on postponing the elections due to the pandemic?

Unfortunately, politics has been the attention of the pandemic, rather than everyone coming together (no matter what side of politics you are on) and assisting each other.  This pandemic is a first, there is no script as to what works and what doesn’t, and everyone needs to pull together for the better outcome.

No doubt, I would have enjoyed being able to go and campaign personally in my area as per other elections, but this cannot be done due to social distancing and restrictions.

How can the public support your campaign?

The support of the public has never been more important. While social media such as Facebook and Instagram have been great platforms to get my message out to as many residents as possible, old-fashioned word of mouth, and signage in the area are things that will play a key role in electing me to council.

I also ask my fellow Darebin residents that have any concerns to message me privately and I will personally hear and respond to their concerns. I want to work and earn their vote. I want to know what their concerns are, and I want to be their voice in the new local council.

And while this year’s circumstances don’t allow me to fundraise in the traditional ways, I ask if anyone is willing to contribute to my campaign to donate via my website. Every contribution, no matter how small or big makes a huge difference to my local campaign.

For more updates and to join the campaign trail, follow Vasilios Tsalkos here.

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