Twenty-nine hopefuls have thrown their hats into the ring for the tough job of Byron Shire councillor, with only eight of them to be elected on 8 September. Returning officer Ian Smith announced the nominations last Wednesday at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall.
Of the 2008–12 councillors only three are running again – Diane Woods, Basil Cameron and Simon Richardson. Those retiring include long-serving councillors Ross Tucker (1991–2012), mayor Jan Barham (1999–2012), and Richard Staples (1995–2012), along with Tom Tabart, Tony Heeson and Patrick Morrisey.
Running for mayor are perennial candidate Jack Sugarman, Ms Morgan, sometimes known as Pagan Morgan, Woods, Cameron, Richardson and Sol Ibrahim, the CEO of Northern Rivers Childcare Services. Interestingly, Woods and Ibrahim are sharing the same media minder.
The candidates for councillor are running in six groups. Richardson (The Greens, Group C) and Cameron (Our Sustainable Future, Group F) head the two political-party groups while the groups describing themselves as independent are headed by Woods (Group A), Paul Spooner, general manager of the Byron Community Centre (Group B), Ibrahim (Group D), and transport advocate Karin Kolbe (Group E).
Now that Barham and Tucker are out of the running, there is no obvious frontrunner for mayor, though Woods is the natural inheritor of the Tucker mantle and Richardson the Greens’. In the 2008 election Richardson picked up 41 first preference (FP) votes as council candidate but got the massive Greens preference flow-on to be elected, while preferences also rushed Woods into office after picking up 15 FP votes behind Tucker. Larrikin independent Sugarman is the only other mayoral candidate with form, scoring 286 FP votes in 2008.
While other nearby shires have vast fields of councillor candidates, Byron Shire is down seven on the 2008 outing, with three fewer groups to vote for. From the six groups, those who have run for councillor before are Kolbe (108 FP votes in 08), Cameron (165), Woods and Richardson. Duncan Dey, third on the Greens ticket, was elected as a councillor at a by-election in 2002.