The starter’s gun has sounded and the 2012 council election race is off and running.
In three of the four shires covered by Echonetdaily, a simultaneous race is being run for mayor, and in two of these the incumbent is retiring.
Byron Shire has six candidates for the role, with the all-important top of the card being claimed by independent candidate Jack Sugarman. He will be followed on the ballot paper by homeless advocate Morgan, sitting councillors Diane Woods, Basil Cameron (Sustainable Futures), Simon Richardson (The Greens) and another first-timer, Sol Ibrahim.
If voters continue with their current patterns, Richardson would be the logical successor to retiring mayor (and now Greens MLC) Jan Barham. Other likely contenders are current deputy mayor Basil Cameron and business-minded independent Diane Woods, both of whom are also heading up groups of candidates.
In Ballina, where long-term mayor Phil Silver is calling it a day, the field is wide open. Sitting councillor Sharon Cadwallader is top of the ticket and is generally seen as a centrist candidate with views falling between the Greens and the more pro-development councillors.
She is followed by The Greens’ Jeff Johnson, who has begun with a strong campaign against the council’s commercial activities that the Greens say have been bleeding the council’s coffers dry.
Keith Williams is not sitting on the current council and is involved with Ballina-based Australian Seabird Rescue. The mayoral voting card in that shire will also include the youngest sitting councillor, Ben Smith, plus David Wright and Sue Meehan.
In Lismore City, popular sitting mayor Jenny Dowell is not going anywhere but she has been well and truly beaten to the top of the ballot paper.
Local broadcaster Neil Marks has nabbed that spot, followed by Graham Meineke.
Liberal businessman Gianpiero Battista is next, with the only new face on the ticket, Nimbin’s Greg Bennet, drawing the short straw at the bottom of the list.
Earlier in the week it appeared that Greens candidate Vanessa Ekins was going to put up her hand for the role, but her lack of appearance on the final ballot paper shores up Dowell’s chances of another term.
Tweed Shire Council does not hold direct elections for the position of mayor.