Peter Westheimer, Myocum
Once upon a time from 2004 to 2008 in the amazing shire of Byron I had the privilege of being an independent councillor and deputy mayor for our great community.
Here are my thoughts and offerings as to the best candidates putting their hands up for 2012.
The job is near full-time, intellectually and emotionally demanding. I’m glad I did it and would hope we all continue to share the job around.
Getting anything tangible achieved as councillor requires determination and hard work. Dealing with the council and state government bureaucracy, who ultimately have near total control, is often very daunting and enough to put all but the committed off.
I have worked with most of the number-one candidates of the groups and parties running and met them all. Those who I believe have the competence, intellect, compassion and vision to be new councillors are in particular Karin Kolbe and Paul Spooner, both independents with extensive track records of community service and professional and life experience.
The Greens’ Simon Richardson is easily the best candidate for mayor. His difficulty will be controlling his more intransigent Greens councillors, who will most likely be elected on his coat-tails.
Basil Cameron probably deserves another go, as councillor only but not mayor.
Sol Ibrahim is a new bloke on the block. His policies sound partially okay but his alignment with ex-Ross Tucker supporter and mayoral aspirant Diane Woods shows naivety and perhaps a leaning to the right, as does his policy alignment with the Belongil Progress Association who have threatened to sue council (ie the rest of us) and councillors for millions of dollars for coastal erosion and sea-level rises for years now.
Planned retreat has been council policy since 1988 and most Belongil buyers were aware of the risks to their properties before purchasing. Woods is a kind, well-meaning person but is a representative of the conservative and right-leaning voters.
Having worked with her during my time on council I do not believe she has the capacity to be a mayor and fully understand and dissect constructively the complexities of strategic planning for our shire.
Many of us have said since 1995 that we need a council that essentially can hold the line against inappropriate residential development and support environmental protection and enhancement, a strong local economy, sustainable agriculture, creative industries, better transport including local light rail, youth and older residents too.
We have been able to do this and by supporting Paul, Karin and Simon and some on their tickets we can continue to make Byron Shire a great place to live.
May the enlightened progressive force be with us!