Campaigning for the hotly contested Tweed Shire Council election starts in earnest this week with two former mayors throwing their hats into the ring and another dropping out altogether.
Cr Joan van Lieshout issued a media statement over the weekend saying she will not contest the 8 September poll, but would ‘reconsider politics again’.
Cr van Lieshout, a Liberal Party member, was elected mayor by her fellow councillors after the 2008 election and served a one-year term in the top job.
She told Echonetdaily that she now would be more involved in working with a charity for disadvantaged women and her husband’s eco-village development.
But she would ‘closely monitor the election campaign and speak out when I see fit’.
Current mayor Barry Longland and mayor in 2009–10 Warren Polglase have both launched their campaigns. The other former mayor of the past council, Kevin Skinner, says he will retire but is No 4 on the ticket of another candidate.
Nominations for candidates close at noon this Wednesday, when all candidates will be known, including their party allegiances, if any.
Cr Polglase, who is running as an ‘independent’, says his National Party membership won’t affect his position as an independent candidate.
The veteran conservative councillor told media his concern was that the Labor and Greens parties would influence candidates who’ve declared their party allegiances, and be ruled by party headquarters.
But he says that despite being a lifelong member of the National Party, he’s not influenced by that allegiance.
However, under new electoral rules introduced in 2008, candidates must declare party membership on their nomination form.
A NSW Electoral Commission spokesman said the rules were changed so voters were better informed about candidates and their backgrounds.
Cr Polglase led council just before the former state Labor government sacked it in 2005 after an inquiry found pro-development councillors were ‘puppets of developers’ after their campaigns were funded by a developer slush fund.
In his campaign launch statement, Cr Polglase said the 2012 poll ‘is the most important council election I can remember… it’s not a choice between pro- and anti-development, it is a choice between Tweed jobs and Tweed stagnation’.
See today’s edition for our comprehensive election coverage.