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Byron Shire
September 21, 2021

A disappointing limbo? Byron candidates on delayed council elections

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With more than 30 candidates announced so far for this year’s local government elections in the Byron Shire, the council’s nine seats are the most hotly contested on the Northern Rivers.
Campaigns started early compared to previous election years, after a twelve-month delay due to the pandemic. 
One of the most noticeable features of the 2021 Byron Shire Council elections has been the number of independents wanting to win power.
There were already six independent tickets announced by late July, including representation from four existing councillors, one of whom quit The Greens (Mayor Michael Lyon) to lead his own team.
The Greens have had a troubled term on the council in terms of unity, and disagreements with the state Greens MP, representing the local Ballina electorate, haven’t helped.
The Byron Greens started preparing for the 2021 election long before any other candidates announced intentions to run, declaring former councillor Duncan Dey as their mayoral candidate in 2020.
Mr Dey, incumbent Mr Lyon and four other mayoral candidates were already busy campaigning for the top spot when NSW Local Government Minister Shelly Hancock delayed the election for a second time: voting would happen on 4 December, she said, as COVID 19 outbreaks in Greater Sydney caused upheaval across the state.
Some of the candidates expressed their views on the delay via social media almost immediately and The Echo shares their comments below, as well as responses from other Byron Shire Council candidates.

Bruce Clarke (also a mayoral candidate), Byron Shire Action Group

From left: Gary Deller, Bruce Clarke, Julie Meldrum and Janine Khosid (front). Photo supplied

Mr Clarke said his team was ready for the September election and the delay ‘provided an opportunity for voters to better analyse the team’s capabilities and its capacity to deliver real outcomes resulting from its action plans to benefit the entire Byron Shire’.

(Current) Councillor Basil Cameron, Independent

‘Disappointing given this is the second postponement, however understandable in the circumstances. A safer election is a better election that will give voters the best chance of assessing candidates’.

(Current) Councillor Cate Coorey, Independent for Community Byron

Independent Byron Shire Councillor Cate Coorey . Photo David Hancock

‘Had the September date been adhered to, current councillors would have had a last council meeting on August 5 and then a full month with fewer councillor duties that would allow us to spend time campaigning,’ Cr Coorey said.
‘This new scenario means that we are back to the regular meeting schedule for another three months, and there’s an expectation that we will be campaigning at the same time up until December.
‘I am already being tagged to reply to so many social media posts and, while I’m thankful for the interest and engagement, there is only so much time in a day.
‘I’m concerned that if we get voted in for a second time, we’ll be exhausted before we start the next term of council’.

Duncan Dey (also a mayoral candidate), The Greens

The Byron Greens candidates Kate Coxall, Ian Cohen, Mayoral candidate Duncan Dey, Matt O’Reilly and Cr Sarah Ndiaye. Photo supplied

Mr Dey said on social media his team of candidates (there are 5 on Mr Dey’s ticket) was ‘looking forward to representing and hearing more from the community in the meantime’.

The Greens mayoral candidate encouraged voters to message the team directly via social media about any issues they may be concerned about.

‘Lets move forward together during this challenging time, together!’ Mr Dey said.

Mark Swivel (also a mayoral candidate), Independent for Mark Swivel Team

Mark Swivel

‘Given the evolving pandemic situation this is an understandable and prudent decision,’ Mr Swivel said on social media.
‘We wish everyone involved in the Byron Shire campaign teams well as we all take a breath and regroup!’

Asren Pugh (also a mayoral candidate), Labor

Labor Byron Shire Council candidates (L-R): Peter Doherty, Linda Watson, Jan Hacket, Asren Pugh, Mel Franze, Kaylene Chamberlain PIC supplied

‘This is extremely disappointing for our community,’ Mr Pugh posted on social media, ‘while I respect that Sydney is going through a really tough time at the moment, there is no reason to again postpone our local elections’.
‘We have some serious issues that need to be addressed and we need an energetic and united council to get on with the job.
‘Leaving us in limbo again is just not good enough. 
‘The continued postponement of the democratic rights of our community to choose it’s own representatives is something that should not be done lightly.
‘Nor should a blanket approach be taken to the whole state’.

(Current) Councillor Alan Hunter, Independent for Byron Alliance

Alan Hunter with The Byron Alliance 2021 team.

‘As disappointing as the decision is, given the situation we’re in, it is a responsible one,’ Cr Hunter said.
Mr Hunter said the local government minister’s second postponement decision was ‘not at all like the stupidity of the thousands demonstrating on Saturday in Sydney who have jeopardised businesses reopening and the mental health of many’.
‘This pandemic is likely to be remembered as one of the greatest adversaries our generation has ever experienced,’ Mr Hunter said, ‘and an opportunity to take advantage of all the compassion this country has been built on, to look out for each other and work close together to get through it’.
‘This decision is a no brainer for Government’.

(Current) Councillor and Mayor Michael Lyon (also a mayoral candidate), Independent

Byron Mayor Michael Lyon

‘It’s a shame but entirely understandable given the circumstances,’ Cr Lyon told The Echo.
‘It gives time for authorities to prepare so that if there is still issues in certain areas, we can proceed in areas unaffected by lockdowns’.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Thirty candidates and rising vying for 9 places means all those candidates must think we have the worst council in history.
    Those candidates come from the Shire community and represent the community so it is logical that the community think we have the worst council in history.
    How can any sitting member survive from the onslaught? The large number nominating tells the story of what the community thinks and feels about council.
    Will the community complain that 30 good community people are applying for the job that presents no pay, I think not?
    Can we hit 40 nominations?

  2. In regard to the “no pay”, if you are considering standing there is an aprox $400 pw allowance + provision of computer and phone and Council payment of phone bills and data/web costs + a generous car allowance (per Kilometer) + lunches and a Councillor room full of booze and munchies AND you can also claim unemployment benefits as “the Allowance is not counted as income” (but the Allowance is taxable if your income is over the taxable threshold), and Centrelink treats your looking for work obligations as being met as you are doing this public volunteering, so if you dont have much income and in a position to live modestly dont be dissuaded from standing.
    As for the worst council in history – apart from, in my opinion, that only two Councillors Coorey and Cameron have got their head around the process’s and the bureaucracy, there is a strong argument for that.

  3. I don’t care how many candidates there are as long as it means the incoming council lacks dead wood. It’s time that fossils and dead wood were turfed out.

    • Agreed , any fossils , who has been hanging around Election after Election , should go . Regrettably , more fossils are seeking election , just look at what The Greens are offering .

      Duncan.

      Then there’s Alan and Basil .

      Oh Dear !

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