Peter Westheimer, Myocum
The upcoming Byron Shire Council election is a great opportunity to elect a majority of diverse, progressive, independent councillors and break the party hold on Council.
It’s good to see how many people and groups are putting their hands up, and most offer quite similar-sounding policies. But there are real differences!
What will ultimately matter is how informed, community connected, smart and experienced they are, how committed to action they are, obviously what the community thinks about them, and importantly how the preferences flow. Most of the mayoral candidates haven’t been a councillor before or are affiliated to either the fractured local Greens party, the ALP or the good/bad old Nationals.
I’m choosing to be a part of the Byron Independent Group, to be re-involved in non-party-aligned progressive politics in the Shire. The four of us in the Byron Independents Group have track records of significant community and Council involvement. The issues in Shire governance are amazingly diverse and the challenges of making informed strategic decisions about finances, housing, population growth, tourism pressure and climate change management are profound.
I decided to run as number three in the Byron Independent Group to support Michael Lyon (formerly a Greens member) who I believe is the best mayoral candidate. Having been in there myself as a councillor and deputy mayor, I know that it’s a challenging and rewarding job. Michael sees the bigger picture and also the minutiae, and has a passion for our Shire and its leadership. I have found him positive, capable, pragmatic when needed, smart and open to growth and learning. These are all qualities needed for being the mayor of such an informed, creative community.
His understanding of Council’s policies and business over the last five years will put him in good stead to make the best decisions into the future.
Sama Balson, running number two on the ticket, is the founder of the Women’s Village Collective and brings a core commitment to affordable housing for long-term locals and forward-thinking ideas in general, as does Jeanette Martin, number four (also formerly a Greens) on the ticket, who shares my commitment to public transport, including light rail, cycleways, creative industries and ecological integrity.
Take a look at our website, think BIG and help to make 4 September ‘Independents Day’.