The battle for control of the seven-seat Tweed Shire Council at next month’s re-scheduled election has ramped up dramatically, with almost half the 15 groups vying for domination of local politics led by National Party members or backers.
The repeat of the nomination process, which was cancelled following the death of a candidate at the start of the initial campaign, has seen an increase in groups from 12 to 15 and total number of candidates climb to a record 76 for the 29 October poll.
The draw for the final order on the ballot paper was held this week by the NSW Electoral Commission at its Tweed Heads office, with an expanded field of groups, including one which missed out on the original draw due to a last-minute stuff-up by its National Party backers (see last our story at https://www.echo.net.au/2016/08/ex-candidate-tweed-poll-rues-nats-link-fiasco/)
This time around, that group (led by Pryce Allsop) plus another headed by former Tweed mayor and National Party-aligned Kevin Skinner have thrown their lot in.
Veteran National Party sitting councillor and pro-development champion Warren Polglase topped the ballot draw for the new candidates list, which gives him the benefit of the ‘donkey’ vote.
He is expected to win his seat again on the back of the conservative vote, and his National Party colleagues in other groups, despite branding themselves as ‘Independent’, are all expected to cross-preference each other to boost their chances of taking a majority position on the new council.
The leaders of the six National Party-affiliated groups are: Warren Polglase; Kevin Skinner; sitting councillor Carolyn Byrne; Kingscliff business chamber leader Jayne Henry; former councillor and Kingscliff business chamber member Dot Holdom; and Murwillumbah businessman Pryce Allsop.
The expanded field for the poll also includes a group led by Tweed Heads resident and teacher Kaye Sharples, who just missed out on a spot on council by a handful of votes at the poll four years ago.
Her husband Terry, who took on Tweed council in court over a contentious seven-year rate increase plan, is No. 4 on her ticket.
Other current sitting councillors recontesting include mayor Katie Milne (Greens), who topped the primary vote at the last election, deputy mayor Gary Bagnall and Barry Longland.
Country Labor’s Reece Byrnes and the Liberal Party candidate James Owen, a Casuarina resident, are both officially-endorsed and expected to make a strong show also with party backing.
Community advocates on the progressive side include Pottsville resident Chris Cherry, high-school acting principal and popular anti-CSG campaigner Michael McNamara, and former councillor Ron Cooper, from Kingscliff.
The same four individual candidates are re-contesting: Vision-impaired advocate Suzy Hudson, Hare Krishna devotee Mathuranatha Das, Bilambil Heights shopkeeper Dion Andrews and Tweed Valley farmer James McKenzie.
Order of the Tweed council ballot paper:
1. Group A: Polglase, W (Independent)
2. Group B: Cherry, C (Independent)
3. Group C: Henry, J (Independent)
4. Group D: Milne, K (Greens)
5. Group E: McNamara, M (Independent)
6. Group F: Owen, J (Liberal)
7. Group G: Holdom, D (Independent)
8. Group H: Allsop, P (Independent)
9. Group I: Longland, B (Independent)
10. Group J: Skinner, K (Independent)
11. Group K: Bagnall, G (Independent)
12. Group L: Byrne, C
13. Group M: Cooper, R (Independent)
14. Group N: Byrnes, R (Country Labor)
15. Group O: Sharples, K (Independent)
The four individual candidates are:
1. Andrews, Dion (Independent)
2. Hudson, Suzy (Independent)
3. Das, Mathuranatha (Independent)
4. McKenzie, James (Independent)
(See previous story at www.echo.net.au/2016/08/groups-fight-control-tweed-council/)