Power game played in election

COUNCILLORS are tight-lipped about tonight's Clarence Valley Council mayoral election as rumours of a challenge circulates and Mayor Richie Williamson considers whether he should run as a Nationals candidate for the seat of Clarence.

Cr Williamson, who has already stated publicly he will be seeking re-election as mayor, said last night he expected to make a decision on whether he would run for the seat of Clarence as a National or as an independent by the end of the week.

He defended claims he could not effectively be mayor and the State Member saying he believed he could do both roles justice.

He pointed to Byron Bay Mayor Jan Barham who is also a member of the NSW Legislative Council and "others around the state" as examples of local government representatives in State Parliament.

If he decided to run for Clarence and won, Cr Williamson said he would step down as mayor at the next general election of the council in September 2012.

By the time a by-election was held, Cr Williamson said he might only have six meetings as mayor.

Meanwhile, a council insider told The Examiner yesterday that Cr Ian Tiley may run for mayor tonight considering the political vacuum created by Clarence MP Steve Cansdell's shock resignation on Friday.

But this could not be confirmed by Cr Tiley yesterday who was one of seven councillors who did not respond to an email asking about tonight's vote.

Deputy Mayor Cr Craig Howe confirmed he would seek re-election as deputy mayor and that he would support Cr Williamson's bid for re-election.

Cr Sue Hughes replied to the email with a short "no comment", while attempts to contact Councillors Margaret McKenna, Karen Toms, Pat Comben and Jim Simmons failed.

Cr Ian Dinham was non-committal over the phone although he confirmed he was not running for the mayoral role.

"We're all waiting until tomorrow to see what happens," Cr Dinham said.

Asked if he thought Cr Williamson could be effective in a role as mayor and Member for Clarence he said this was one of the things up for consideration tonight but it would be expected if someone was to stand for both positions they would be able to perform both roles.

He said he expected councillors would have the opportunity to ask these and other questions tonight.

Asked about his dispute with the Nationals during the March election campaign Cr Williamson said he and the National Party had "moved on".

Cr Williamson claimed in March that former Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell and another North Coast MP (whom he refused to name) had asked him to drop his bid as an independent on the promise that he would receive National Party endorsement in the 2015 election. This was denied by all North Coast MPs and Cansdell said Williamson was a liar desperate for votes.

Cr Williamson said six months ago only an independent could deliver good outcomes for the Clarence but is now "considering options to get the best outcomes for the people of the electorate ... getting the outcomes is the important thing".



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