Now is the time for any citizen who believes in the democratic institutions of our great nation to put their hand up. If you believe that you can contribute to the betterment of your community then you will have an opportunity in September to try and put yourself in to a position where you may be able do exactly just that.
The occasion? Local government elections have been scheduled by the NSW Government to be held on Saturday, September 8, 2012.
This year the Weddin Shire Council elections will be held under a new system that should, theoretically, make it easier for candidates, either on a ticket or as an individual, to challenge for a seat.
For the first time since the inauguration of the Weddin Shire Council in the 1970’s following the amalgamation of the old shire and town councils, there will be no ward system. The ward system was a series of mini electorates, totaling five in all, that saw two members elected from each of those five ward areas to form a council. This resulted in a total of ten councillors being elected from the wards that consisted of three rural wards and two town wards.
There were rumblings about the ward system for many years as the shire saw a sharp decrease in the rural population and a corresponding increase in the town population. This resulted in a lopsided arrangement where, to ensure that the populations of each ward were kept equal, as per government regulations, more and more of the town’s voters were being lopped off and placed into rural wards. Finally the State Electoral Commission instructed the council to put it to the Weddin Shire voters in a referendum, corresponding with the 2008 Local Government elections, as to whether they wished to continue with the ward system or not.
The end result was that the electors voted overwhelmingly to abolish the ward system. As a consequence the September 8, elections will be held in an Open Council format for the first time.
Another major difference for this September election is that there will also be a decrease in the number of councillors to be elected. The council voted some months ago to agree with a State Government proposal to reduce the number of Weddin Shire councillors from 10 down to nine.
So, if ever you wanted to be involved in local politics, this is an opportune time.
Although most eligible candidates probably already lead busy lives it is imperative that a good field of candidates present themselves for election. People with vision and the perseverance to deal with a myriad of conflicting opinions as to what and what should not be done for the future of the shire will, no doubt be needed.
Those who wish to stand for this September’s elections must be on the voter register by Monday, July 30. Also, prospective candidates must be registered as a candidate by Wednesday, August 8.
To find out more details about what you need to do as a prospective candidate as far as registering etc, you can check all the details on the NSW Department of Local Government website. You can just Google this site and look for a booklet to download called “So your thinking of becoming a Local Government Councillor?”
Also, for further information you can check with the Weddin Shire Council, either at the council offices in Weddin Street or by phoning 6343 -1212.
Also – anyone who is planning to let the people of the shire know what their vision for the shire is and how they plan to achieve that, are invited to let the Grenfell Record know so we can tell the people.
All the present sitting Shire councillors have been contacted by the Record as to their intentions regarding standing for re-lection at the forthcoming elections on September 8.
Those who have indicated that they will be standing for a further term include councillors Nevin Hughes (present Deputy Mayor), Geoff McClelland, John Niven and Bill Atchison. Those councillors who have indicated they will NOT be seeking re-election are Christine Lobb and Dennis Hughes. Those councillors who have indicated they are still undecided as to whether they will be standing again include Mark Crutcher, Graeme Halls and Barry Hinde. The incumbent Mayor, councillor Maurice Simpson, declined to answer the Record’s request as to his intentions.
There is a wealth of experience that will be lost and hard to replace if some of the undecided candidates do not stand for re-election, including councillor Halls – 16 years, and councillor Hinde - 13 years. Councillor Crutcher has only served one term but his contributions as a fresh influence and successful businessman will be sorely missed if he declines to re-nominate.
The present Mayor, Maurice Simpson has been a local councillor for 17 years – as well as serving the council and the electors as Mayor for 13 years. Councillors not re-nominating include councillors Dennis Hughes - who has served the electors for 16 years and Chris Lobb who, whilst only serving one term - as the lone female on council she represented half the shire’s population – ie the female voters. It is hoped another female candidate (or, ideally, several other women candidates) will step forward to take her place.
Of the four councillors who have indicated they will be standing again, councillor Nevin Hughes has been on the council for 9 years and has served as Deputy Mayor for years. Councillor Atchison has served 8yrs (two terms) and councillor McClelland is the veteran of the present council having served the electorate for 29 years. Councillor John Niven was elected in the 2008 ballot to serve his first term on council.