Tweed Heads high-school teacher Kaye Sharples, who narrowly missed out on election to Tweed Shire Council four years ago, is hoping her neighbourhood group will this time make the grade.
The longtime Tweed Heads resident in 2012 secured 4.7 per cent of the primary vote, in an electorate with around 60,000 voters, with her campaign slogan ‘No Political Parties in Local Government’.
The group’s main aim is to establish a ward system for local council representation for the 2020 election, which would divide the shire into three geographical wards with three councillors elected to each.
Mrs Sharples said ‘this will allow more effective representation of people’s interests in their particular ward’.
‘People want to know and develop relationships with their local councillors,’ she said.
‘Our population in 2020 will reach around 110,000. It is impossible to expect a councillor to have the capacity or the local knowledge to address concerns from all parts of the shire.
‘The majority of those who run for office are people with money and big party backing so we constantly finish up with two political sides on council. This is what leads to all the vitriolic bickering that our community is so sick of.
‘When you are elected from 15,000 people you are accountable to them and work very hard at being proactive in the area to act on any resident concerns.
‘Inappropriate things don’t get rushed through because there are more voices to be heard and more issues brought to the table
‘Another benefit of the ward system will be to reduce the influence of major political party allow for greater local democracy,’ Mrs Sharples said.
But the group has got a battle on its hands to get there, as it will be up against all the major parties which are often supported financially by big-business factions.
‘Just look at the how-to-vote tickets all cross-preference other groups in their factional party stable to shut out genuine non-political groups like ours.
‘Wards means more power to the people.
‘Our group would love to hear your views on this important change.’