Baker in strong showing
JUST a few weeks ago Andrew Baker wasn't even sure whether he should continue running for a seat on Clarence Valley Council.
The Maclean businessman thought voters may shun him after he announced at a Daily Examiner meet-the-candidates forum in Maclean that two of his companies had been placed into receivership.
Words of encouragement from people on the street, however, were enough to keep him in the race.
And, after more than half the votes were counted on Saturday night, Mr Baker is sitting in second position behind current mayor Richie Williamson.
Mr Baker said he went into the race not knowing quite what to expect.
"I was surprised; mostly because I didn't know what sort of result to expect," he said.
"The message I've got from the people that have spoken to me about what they think, is that people want to get out of the last wasted four years and get into something with a bit more direction and a bit more destination to it."
If the polls continue in the same direction and Mr Baker is elected to the council, aimlessness and attitude are two of the things he will be attacking.
"If I am declared elected and sit on council I would hope there is enough change in the attitude of the new council to find some direction," he said.
"(We need to) find somewhere we want to go to rather than being fairly aimless and non-achievers as the past four years has been.
"I understand there is some baggage left over from the previous council and that needs to be dealt with first by way of standards of conduct and integrity issues."
Mr Baker said those matters needed to be addressed before all others.
"I believe they should be dealt with as a matter of urgency before any other matter, including voting in a new mayor and a new deputy mayor," he said.
"For everybody's benefit - particularly the new councillors - that should be dealt with so they can fully understand who we're being asked to deal with and potentially vote on in an election (mayoral)."
Mr Baker described the performance of councillors during the past four years as "one year of mediocre performance".
He said new blood would only benefit the council but he wasn't counting his chickens before they were hatched.
"Given my analysis of the same position at the same time in 2008, there will be quite a few changes and that's why I'm not rushing in to declare myself elected because things can change dramatically in the next few days," he said.
"I'm really humbled by the results so far regardless of any further outcomes and I've really appreciated the fairness that people have treated me with over the time."