Dark horse for Mayor as main contenders lack support

Who will be the next mayor of the Clarence Valley?
Who will be the next mayor of the Clarence Valley?

COUNCIL insiders have revealed that a dark horse could emerge in the race to be Clarence Valley mayor.

The council will hold its inaugural meeting next Tuesday in Maclean to install the nine newly elected councillors and to select the mayor.

The view that the mayoral race is between Andrew Baker and incumbent Richie Williamson could be turned on its head according to some councillors.

REVEALED: The visions of each of our elected councillors

One insider said neither of them had gathered enough support to secure the post.

"Baker can count on three votes, Richie can count on three. And there's the three new councillors. How do they get to five?" he said.

"The time is right for someone from the middle ground to come up and split off a vote from the other two camps."

Who should be the next mayor of the Clarence Valley?

Mr Williamson agreed that there is potential for an upset.

"I can see how you could see it what way," he said.

Mr Williamson said he had not yet decide if he will join the race.

"I'm still weighing up my options," he said. "It's now a two-year term which makes it a fundamental decision.

"It's a decision that shouldn't be rushed, or to stand for deputy as well."

But Mr Williamson's job description of the role seems to indicate he is closer to making a decision than he has let on.

"Council will need pretty strong and experienced leadership over the next short period," he said.

Mr Williamson said there is a full-day training workshop for councillors on Saturday.

"Staff will be bringing councillors up to speed with things like the level of service delivery and funding issues among other things," he said.

"I will have a talk with my colleagues new and old after that and probably make my decision from there."

>> Councillor reaction from election result

Lower Clarence-based Mr Baker has made no secret he is seeking the top job.

Almost as soon as the result was announced on Friday he commenced discussions with some of the the councillors-elect.

Mr Baker said the upper and lower river split was not likely to be an issue, despite five of the nine on the new council coming from Lower Clarence communities.

He said his how-to-vote card had indicated a preference for councillors who were opposed to increasing rates through the special rates variation.

Mr Baker's voting preferences were for himself, Karen Toms and Jim Simmons as well as Margaret McKenna, who was not elected this time. All were opponents of the SRV and the council super depot.

"It was purely financial," Mr Baker said.

Mr Baker has the backing of another Lower Clarence councillor, Karen Toms, who said it's time for a change of leadership at the council.

Ms Toms had not decided if she will be standing for the top job but praised Mr Baker's decision to run.

"I think Andrew could make a good mayor," she said.

"He's been on the customer side of our council and has found out how our council deals with people.

"It's been alleged by people who have to deal with our council they put up ways to stop people doing things rather than find ways to help.

"That's disappointing and I think that someone with Andrew's experience could help change that attitude."

New councillor Peter Ellem has ruled himself out as a candidate for mayor, although he could nominate for the deputy's role.

Topics:  andrew baker, clarence valley council, cvcelection2016, election, karen toms, mayor, peter ellem, richie williamson, srv

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