IF YOU thought people weren't interested in local government you weren't at the meet-the-candidates forum in Maclean on Monday night.
That said, the vast majority of those in attendance were on the wrong side of middle age.
The forum was the first of two to be held this week; the other is on being held tonight at the Grafton District Services Club.
Around 200 Hundreds of people packed the Maclean Ex-Services Club to hear what the 17 aspiring candidates had to say. The line-up consisted of Six are currently -serving councillors. and 11 hopefuls looking to fill the void left by retiring councillors
Ian Dinham, Ian Tiley and Pat Comben will retire at the election.
The Daily Examiner 's editor Jenna Cairney adjudicatedthe evening, putting a range of reader-contributed questions to the candidates.
She also asked candidates whether they were aligned to a political party. Several candidates admitted ing being a member of a party, while one candidate said she has been a member of virtually every political party at some stage.
As expected though, all candidates espoused the importance of taking a non-political approach to local government.
The candidates were split on the issue of coal seam gas mining, with some totally against it and others calling for a rational debate.
On When asked about job creation, a few of the councillors had ideas but none that seemed would generate large-scale employment.
When asked about their support of the local timber industry - an important local jobs provider - all candidates who had the opportunity to respond to the question said they supported its continuation; although environmentalist Greg Clancy made the comment that timber was "not the future".
Jim Simmons, on the other hand, spoke passionately about his father's career in the timber industry and the importance of it s continuation for local jobs.
A question on what to do about the flying foxes in Maclean aroused some passion in the audience and even a bit of humour from oneof the candidates.
Joy de Roos said the bats were not there when she was a child attended ing Maclean High School and said they should be moved on.
But Greg Clancy was shot down in flames by the audience when he said records showed the flying foxes had been in the area for more than 100 years.
This was tempered with Jeremy Challacombe's tongue-in-cheek comment that bats were a delicacy in some countries and there could be an opportunity for a new local industry packaging and exporting flying foxes.