Local Government election looms

Just 12 weeks out from the September 9 council election, eight of the nine former Cootamundra Shire Councillors have confirmed they will throw their hat in the ring for the combined Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council. 

Paul Braybrooks has decided not to stand saying that over the last two years, he has been slowly stepping away from State and Regional Local Government positions with the original intention of not standing at the local elections which were to be held in September 2016.

“After 25 years of service to my community in various State and Regional Local Government positions, including 15 years as Mayor of Cootamundra Sire, I have decided to retire,” Mr Braybrooks said.

Immediate past mayor Jim Slattery indicated he was keen to be part of the first elected council for the merged entity saying “there are big changes to be made”. 

Former deputy mayor Dennis Palmer has also put his hand up.

“With a new general manager leading two communities who haven’t developed a favourable relationship, it’s very important that our community considers voting for experienced councillors who can assist and guide newly elected councillors,” Mr Palmer said. 

“It really takes the first elected term to learn about Local Government workings and understand the community, its needs and history.

“Being the first council formed under the amalgamation of two shires it is extremely important that we look after our communities with the best choices for this first term.

“The new council will not be made up of nine councillors from Cootamundra. I would hope for our towns sake that we don’t see a new council consisting of all new first time councillors with a new general manager.

“Personally I want to ensure that under new leadership we can develop a positive ‘can do’ attitude to assist, encourage and develop our shire.

“Council must be proactive and open minded to everyone, not wield the big stick but be a friend who encourages and helps for the benefit of our community.

“I know there is a lot of negativity about experiences with council but its time to work together and become the great community we all want,” Mr Palmer concluded. 

Rosalind Wight said the entire amalgamation process has allowed Cootamundra to stall and that must be turned around with a democratically elected council. 

Her name will be on the ballot paper come September 9. 

“I have every faith and confidence about working with Gundagai; I have enjoyed working with their representatives on council committees,” Mrs Wight said. 

Craig Stewart is keen to put his hand up saying having been part of Cootamundra Shire Council when it merged, he would like to offer his experience to the amalgamated council. 

Stephen Doidge has also indicated he will stand saying he will make it his goal to get the best outcomes for both communities. 

“I have had one term in so have that experience to draw on,” Mr Doidge said. 

Rod Chalmers said local government experience will be instrumental to the new council moving forward and therefore has decided to stand. 

“I have thought about a vision for what needs doing and have more or less settled on that vision; I still have more to offer,” Mr Chalmers said. 

He encouraged cooperation between the two towns. 

“We are one local government area, we all need to work together,” he said. 

He is keen to see a candidates’ forum in both towns in the lead-up to the election. 

Mary Donnelly has no qualms about putting her hand up for the amalgamated council. 

“I love working for my town,” she said. 

Doug Phillips has also confirmed his intention to stand. 

“Now we have merged, there is a necessity for experience,” Mr Phillips said.

“I feel like I can make a difference,” he added. 

From Gundagai’s standpoint, the Cootamundra Herald has been in contact with six of the eight former Gundagai Shire Councillors, will five of these still uncommitted as to whether they will stand. 

Former mayor Abb McAlister, who has led a change to de-merge the two councils, said he has “put some thought” into running or not, however would not be drawn on an answer. 

Ron Moses is waiting to see who else puts their hand up suggesting that if “good, young, vibrant people in Gundagai” are keen he will step down. 

“I don’t want to see an overload of candidates in Gundagai,” Mr Moses said. 

Peter Batey, at age 84, suggested he may be getting too old to stand and tentatively suggested he would not, however added he can be persuaded. 

Peter Gain has been discussing with his wife whether or not to run and as of Wednesday was still undecided. 

He said he ran for Gundagai Shire Council as a way to give something back to a town which gave him plenty of scope to grow during his legal career. 

"If we are going to have a merged council, we have to work together," Mr Gain said. 

“We need to have strong, motivated people,” he added. 

Former deputy mayor David Graham is also undecided about whether he will stand, still disillusioned with the entire merger. 

“When things are in such a mess, I need to think things through,” Mr Graham said. 

Together with Mr McAlister, he was also part of the legal action taken by the former Gundagai Shire Council to remain a stand-alone council. 

Mike Kingwill has moved out of Gundagai and therefore will not be standing. 

The Herald is yet to speak to Mason Crane or Ron Magnone. 

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