Being a united MidCoast community and getting your voice heard in the new council is the overarching message across the range of council candidates.
Gloucester Business Chamber held the first Meet the Candidates event since the official ballot roll was announced for the September 9 MidCoast Council election.
All 69 candidates were invited to attend on Monday evening (August 21) at the Gloucester Soldiers Club auditorium, for the chance to speak to the community about what they stand for.
Representatives from all 11 groups and two of the five ungrouped candidates took up the offer to have their say in the race for the final 11 spots on the first MidCoast Council.
After each presentation, the representatives were asked to indicate who their preferences were going to.
Group F (Karen Hutchinson) is swapping preferences with Group A (Len Roberts); Group B (Brad Christensen) with Group I (Katheryn Smith) and Group D (Peter Epov) is exchanging with Group G (Kathryn Bell), although Mr Epov joked that his option was negotiable.
Mr Christensen explained that in the past he has run independently, meaning ungrouped, when standing for the former Greater Taree City Council, but this time around opted to stand in a group due to the sheer size of the council. He did suggest the best voting option was below the line, choosing the individual from one to 11.
Group K (Jan McWilliams), Group E (Troy Fowler), Group C (John Rosenbaum), Group H (David West), Group J (David Keegan), ungrouped Susan Walker and ungrouped Russell Gardner have no preferences.
The discussion about preferences confused some of the residents and the first question was for an explanation. Due to the complexity of the answer, it was suggested that people contact the Electoral Commission for more information via www.votensw.info/
Candidates were quizzed on their plan for economic growth and met with a variety of answers. Some suggested the way forward is through seed funding, others suggested more council support for businesses, while some believe the best option is attracting more people to move to the region.
Another issue that was raised was the Gloucester community’s ability to communicate with councillors who don’t live in Gloucester. Some indicated they would have a physical presence, others said the best method was via electronic means, telephone or email, while others said the best forum was at council meetings, which are due to take place quarterly or community groups, like the business chamber.