Mayor backs councillors

FINAL touches are being put on the how-to-vote cards of Clarence Valley Council candidates and while some candidates are keeping the details close to their chest, others were happy to disclose their thoughts on their ideal team to lead the Valley over the next four years.

Mayor Richie Williamson confirmed the current crop of six councillors contesting the September 8 election would be on his ticket, but he refused to comment about which of the new candidates would make it to the card.

"I'd like to think I'd be on Richie's ticket," said former vice-chairman of the NSW National Party and current Grafton Chamber of Commerce president Jeremy Challacombe.

Though he didn't wish to bring party politics into local government, Mr Challacombe clarified his National Party connections, saying he had urged the party to split from the Liberal Party and even form an alliance with Labor if they were to create the right policies for rural NSW.

Cr Margaret McKenna said she had had "general discussions" with Cr Williamson some time ago about how-to-vote cards but no specific agreements had been reached.

She, along with Cr Craig Howe and Cr Jim Simmons, said they would support Cr Williamson in the position of mayor if voted in.

Cr Howe said he certainly had ambitions to be mayor in the future, but not in the next term of the council.

Cr McKenna said she would place the current councillors on her ticket but she was still making her mind up on the others.

She said CVC was losing three experience councillors in Ian Dinham, Pat Comben and Ian Tiley and the loss of any more experienced councillors may not be good for the Valley.

As to new blood, Cr McKenna said she'd been impressed with Jason Kings- ley who was also supported by Cr Howe.

Cr Jim Simmons said he was still undecided but, on similar grounds to Cr McKenna, but would definitely be including the current six councillors.

As a Lower Clarence man, Cr Simmons said it was hard to look past Joy de Roos and Andrew Baker and he also liked Jeremy Challacombe.

He said he was very disappointed that CVC voted 5/4 against Mr Baker's supermarket development in 2009.

"We'd have a supermarket here now if that went through," he said.

Mr Challacombe said he would support the current councillors, and himself, on his card but had not yet decided on the final two places.

Ursula Tunks listed her choices as: herself, councillors McKenna, Howe, Williamson and Sue Hughes, along with Ms de Roos and Margot Scott. The final two places, she said, were a toss up between Dr Greg Clancy, Mr Baker and Cr Simmons.

Dr Clancy and Mr Baker said they wished to remain truly independent - Mr Baker opting not to have how-to-vote cards and Dr Clancy saying his card would put himself at number one, with the recommendation to vote in at least four other squares at the voters' choice.

Pre-polling has already begun in the CVC election but campaigning is expected to intensify next week.

Cr Howe confirmed he was taking long-service leave to focus on his election tilt in coming weeks.

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