Novak takes No 1 ballot slot at council election draw

LOWER Clarence candidate Debrah Novak heads a 21-strong field of candidates on the ballot paper for the 2016 Clarence Valley Council election.

The ballot draw was conducted at the Grafton Council Chambers at 4pm on Wednesday afternoon after nominations closed at noon.

The 13 new candidates from around the Valley have nominated for the September 10 poll along with eight of the current councillors.

Ballot order   1. Debrah Novak   2. Ian Saunders   3. Greg Clancy   4. Peta Rogers   5. Brett Tibbett   6. Karen Toms   7. Ursula Tunks   8. Jason Kingsley   9. John Hagger   10. Peter Ellem   11. Richie Williamson   12. Marty Wells   13. Trevor Ellem   14. Joy de Roos   15. Keith Bates   16. Sue Hughes   17. Jim Simmons   18. John Riggall   19. Arthur Lysaught   20. Margaret McKenna   21. Andrew Baker  

Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson is back for his fourth term on council.

He said the council has made a strong start to becoming sustainable, but there is a lot more work to do.

He said the new council will need to continue to make decisions for the long-term good of the region.

If elected, Cr Williamson said he would give strong consideration to running again as mayor, although he indicated earlier in the year this could be his last term.

It's understood the surprise decision of Deputy Mayor Craig Howe to not stand this year may have influenced his thinking.

John Hagger, from Waterview Heights, is attempting to metamorphose from council gadfly to councillor.

He has used social media to criticise council plans including the special rate variation and its new depot at South Grafton.

His election platform centres on total opposition to a rate rise, cutting council expenditure and looking at alternative sources of revenue to pay down council debt.

At Tuesday's council meeting, Cr Andrew Baker refused to vote for the council's end of term report, claiming he couldn't give a tick of approval to a "work of fiction".

He said the report said all the nice things about council, but said it needed to focus on more meat and potatoes matters.

Cr Baker said he would continue a philosophy of "telling it like it is" should he be re-elected next month.

He said the new council should take the Jason Taylor approach and create a strong, workable team rather than a group of individual personalities.

Keith Bates, from Grafton, is a relative newcomer to the Clarence Valley who would like to give back to the community by getting on council.

The former Englishman, who arrived here in 2010, says his platform will be getting more jobs for the Clarence, fixing up the old Grafton Bridge and making Grafton a major centre for cycling.

He would also like to see tree plantations, a community park and an equestrian academy in Grafton.

Peta Rogers, from The Whiteman, has local politics in her blood, as her mother, Marie Howlett, served two terms in the Ulmarra Shire Council in the 1980s.

She has returned after 20 years away from the region and after questioning the council about some issues and getting answers she didn't like, has decided to "put myself in the middle of it".

She said her mother's experience gave her a good idea of what it took to be a councillor.

If elected she wants to see council review its rating categories, attract long term business to the region and provide a boost to tourism services.

Ian Saunders, from Maclean, brings a wealth of experience of local government to the table.

He has worked on the Clarence Valley Council, Brisbane City Council and Logan Council.

He said his experience has given him some ideas for what would make a good template for the Clarence Valley Council.

He said this would require giving the council a good shakeup including its finances, structure and governance.

In the region the Clarence Valley field can't compare with others, like Coffs Harbour, where voters will be choosing from a field of 47 candidates.

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