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Byron Shire
January 23, 2022

Tweed Shire Mayor and Deputy Mayor elected

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Each of the seven newly-elected Councillors have taken their Oath or Affirmation of Office before the General Manager. From top left (clockwise): Cr Nola Firth, Cr Reece Byrnes, Cr Rhiannon Brinsmead, Cr Meredith Dennis, Cr James Owen, Cr Chris Cherry and Cr Warren Polglase (centre).

The first meeting of the new Tweed Shire Council took place yesterday afternoon with the induction of the seven elected councillors and the election of Mayor and Deputy Mayor. 

Returning councillors were former Mayor Independent Chris Cherry, Liberal James Owen, Labor’s Reece Byrnes and conservative councillor Warren Polglase. 

New faces in the chamber were Independent Merideth Dennis, the second candidate on James Owen’s ticket, and his partner, Rhiannon Brinsmead, and Greens Dr Nola Firth rounding out the seven council positions. 

Unlike other councils in the Northern Rivers the Tweed Shire Councillors elect their Mayor and Deputy Mayor themselves rather than by popular vote. 

Cr Chris Cherry will serve as Mayor until September 2023.

Election of Mayor

Councillors Chris Cherry and James Owens were both nominated for the position of Mayor. The fact that Councillor Rhiannon Brinsmead was attending the meeting remotely meant that the councillors opted to vote with a show of hands rather that a secret ballot for the election of both positions. 

Councillor Chris Cherry was elected as Mayor with five votes from Councillors Reece Byrnes, Meredith Dennis, Nola Firth and Warren Polglase and herself. 

The Mayoral position is for approximately two years and Cr Cherry will hold the role until September 2023. This is her second term as Mayor, after holding the position from September 2020 until the election in December 2021. She was first elected to Tweed Shire Council in September 2016 as an independent and previously served as Deputy Mayor in 2016/17, 2018/19 and in 2019/20.

‘I’m incredibly honoured and humbled to be returned as Mayor and feel my previous work has been validated,’ Cr Cherry said.

‘There has never been a more important time for the Tweed in terms of balancing the growth in population moving forward.

‘There is a need for more housing in the Tweed so we can ensure our children have somewhere to live in the future. But we need to manage this growth without compromising the incredible environment and lifestyle of the area in which we live.

‘I look forward to working together with our new team of Councillors – everyone here wants to make Tweed a better place to live.’

Cr Reece Byrnes will serve as Deputy Mayor until December 2022.

Deputy Mayor

Councillors Reece Byrnes and James Owen were both nominated for the position of Deputy Mayor, a role that lasts approximately 12 months. 

Councillor Byrnes was elected as Deputy Mayor with the support of five votes from Councillors Chris Cherry, Meredith Dennis, Nola Firth and Warren Polglase and himself. The position will run until September 2022. 

‘I’m honoured to be re-elected as Deputy Mayor for Tweed in 2022,’ Cr Byrnes said.

‘I thank my colleagues for their support and congratulate Cr Cherry on her re-election as Mayor. It was a privilege to nominate and support her for this important role. 

‘I wish to thank the residents and ratepayers of the Tweed for their support. It’s a challenging time for the Tweed, but I’m going to fight every day for the issues important to you, your family and our community.’

New Councillors

Dr Nola Firth has recently been elected to Tweed Shire Council as a Greens candidate. Photo Supplied

Speaking to The Echo following the election Greens Councillor Dr Nola Firth said ‘I am very happy to have the privilege of being elected. I am very hopeful that with the composition of Council the issues I campaigned on will be able to be actioned. 

‘These include fast tracking of our climate action plan (especially emissions reduction), increased resources for protection of our internationally significant environment and a focus on urban greening that increases native habitat while cooling our towns,’ she said. 

‘Local council is powerful because it works at grass roots level. With climate change already affecting us and a million species at risk of extinction we need to give these issues very high priority, including at council level.’

Meredith Dennis was elected to the Tweed Shire Council as an Independent candidate in the 2021 council elections. Photo supplied

New Councillor, Independent Meredith Dennis, who has lived in the Tweed for 25 years and volunteered with Tweed Palliative Support for the last 23 years said she spent many hours on the road and meeting people during the campaign. 

‘I’m so excited and grateful to the community who have given me their vote,’ Councillor Dennis told The Echo

‘I think I have a fair understanding of what is going on in the Tweed, and am always open to hearing from the community. We were all elected to represent the people of the Tweed. I don’t think there should be any decisions made by the council that don’t do that. Party politics should not be a factor. The community have elected us to represent them. I’m just hoping we will all work together for the benefit of the Tweed, not a political party,’ she said. 

‘Before the election there were several key issues that kept coming up. The length of time for a development application (DA) to go through and the second dwelling on rural blocks. The lack of activities for young people and of course the state of our roads were two other issues. There are many other issues that need attention including activities and connection for our older generation, homelessness and house affordability is a huge issue and of course the protection of our wildlife and precious environment.’

This council term is a reduced term of two years and eight months as a result of the 2020 election being rescheduled twice because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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  1. And just how is building houses as well as not compromising the environment at the same time carried out.
    Mayor Cherry will need a magician’s wand.

    • What you do is you build extra houses on 20 acre blocks rather than residential subdivisions and they blend into the landscape better and it keeps locals who grow up in villages on their family properties, the fact is houses have hardly any impact on the environment.

  2. What a farse not to have the most popularly elected counsellor James Owen not selected as Mayor. It seems that in Tweed peoples choice is irrelevant.

    • He got about 25% of the vote, so that’s about 75% of the voters that didn’t support him. But…he did alright in the Mayoral vote…. at least his partner voted for him.

  3. Congratulations to returning Mayor and deputy Chris and Reece and all those that voted and supported all the progressive residents and community teams! We have again locked out the LNP pro-developer blocks from destroying what we all love about our Tweed Shire! As expected the LNP are now hopelessly divided after the destructive attitude shown by the incomprehensible media blitz spending of the foolish Lieberal party block refusing to pass on any preference votes! What on earth were these selfish pair thinking!

    • Running without allocating preferences was probably a master stroke. By not alienating any of those who inevitably wouldn’t like his preference choices, whatever they were, Owen was able to garner a wider support base which brought the group an almost exact double quota to also elect Brinsmead. Like Chris Cherry (who had a 1.01 quota) they had virtually no spare votes to distribute to preferences anyway.

      Had the group not reached the double quota, Brinsmead would have been relying on preferences from other candidates, which may have ended up with her not reaching a quota at all and having to compete for the last three positions with Polglase, Firth and Allsop.

  4. Cr Cherry told the ABC today she wants to keep ‘politics out of Council’. Doh!
    Getting elected to Council is part of a political process, I would think.
    Every action she takes as Mayor (or Councillor) is political.

  5. Congratulations to all.the elected officials hopefully the problem of housing here in tweed heads will.be addressed by the newly elected council.officials. my hubby and I were desperately in need a permanent place.to.live even in a tiny home in a seniors village where I can sustain to live with my husband who has health issues for as long as he’s alive only. Am still working while looking after him but not to.add some stress on.me to.transfer from.one place to another. Hopefully a seniors village which is very convenient to.the new hospital. Hopefully. Thank you

  6. Can they get a clean up happening on the Fingal Road exit on the M1… my God the rubbish and graffiti on the bridge is gross for years now. Graffiti on the timber fences at the traffic light intersection of Leisure Drive & Eucalyptus Drive, Banora Point is still there after bringing it to Council’s attention many years ago. Hopeless!

    • I second your point, Lisa. I recently returned from a road trip and was struck by the neglect of overgrown grass, graffiti and general lack of maintenance in the Tweed Shire,
      Job#1, Increase the maintenance & remove the graffiti. Use technology like wifi cameras to record and convict the perpetrators.
      Job #2. Fix the roads – start with redoing Minjungbal Drive & the entrance into the Tweed from the Qld Border. This is what the tourist see when they drive into the Tweed. I cringe each time I enter from the border and the sign says “Welcome to NSW” and the road immediately changes from smooth bitumen to a goat track.


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