Will newfound Lower Clarence majority influence mayoral vote?

ANDREW BAKER: Asks why should ratepayers be forced to pay more for council's mistakes. He said there is no need for ratepayers to pay an extra 41% rates when councils have alternatives. He says council has too much general fund debt by about $40 million.Photo Tim Howard / Daily Examiner
ANDREW BAKER: Asks why should ratepayers be forced to pay more for council's mistakes. He said there is no need for ratepayers to pay an extra 41% rates when councils have alternatives. He says council has too much general fund debt by about $40 million.Photo Tim Howard / Daily Examiner Tim Howard

IT WILL be policy and not parochialism that will guide Clarence Valley Council according to most of the Lower Clarence people elected to the council on September 10.

Five of the nine councillors elected - Andrew Baker (Harwood), Karen Toms (Yamba), Jim Simmons (Maclean), Debrah Novak (Yamba) and Peter Ellem (Wooloweyah) - live down river. Ms Novak and Mr Ellem are new to the council.

Mr Baker said he had no preconceived opinion on the make-up of the new council.

"You have to work with the councillors who are elected, they're the ones the people voted in," he said.

"You can't get upset over who's not voted onto the council or what group missed out."

Mr Baker said he did not think the split of Lower River and Upper River councillors would be decisive.

Mr Baker said while he had formed an alliance with a number of former councillors during the election campaign, those ties were based only on financial issues facing the council.

Mr Baker's voting preferences were for himself, Toms and Simmons as well as Margaret McKenna, who was not elected. All are opponents of the special rates variation and the council super depot.

"It was purely financial," Mr Baker said. "It was not enough to get married over.".

Mr Ellem said the voters had demonstrated a desire for change, voting two sitting councillors out.

"It was a rout for the former council," he said.

"It was close to one or two more of the former councillors going."

Who should be the next mayor of the Clarence Valley?

This poll ended on 26 September 2016.

Richie Williamson - 9%

Andrew Baker - 24%

Karen Toms - 6%

Peter Ellem - 25%

Jason Kingsley - 3%

Debrah Novak - 6%

Jim Simmons - 3%

Arthur Lysaught - 4%

Greg Clancy - 4%

None. Throw out this council and elect a new one! - 11%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.


Mr Ellem said there could be some more surprises to come with the vote for mayor and deputy mayor to be conducted next week.

He said the new council could be looking for a fresh start on some of the issues.

"The majority of elected councillors have not supported a special rates variation," he said.

"They're lining up with the Toms, Baker, Simmons position on the big issues."

Ms Novak said she would follow the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal's (IPART) guidelines.

"IPART's just released their first draft of their review of the rating structure," she said.

"I think we should follow what IPART is doing because they've brought in all the big guns to do a review using best practice and I think we should do that as well."

Ms Novak said there were elements of the election result that she was disappointed with.

She said three new councillors was not enough, there were fewer women on the new council and there was no indigenous representation.

"It was disappointing Brett Tibbett missed out," she said.

"He would have informed the council about the issues facing the indigenous community."

Mr Tibbett was the last candidate excluded, falling 68 votes short of The Greens' Greg Clancy.

Mr Simmons said three new councillors was about par for an election.

"That's about the average for each election, two or three new ones," he said.

The returning officer for the poll, Leisa Stout, said the election had been uneventful.

"Many of us were involved in the Federal Election just a couple of months ago so we were right in election mode," she said.

Statistics reveal that pf a total electoral roll of 39,070 there was an 81.06% turnout, or 31,671 voted. There was an informal vote of 1965 or 6.2%.

Topics:  andrew baker, clarence valley council, cvcelection2016, lower clarence, mayoral vote

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