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Moree prepares to vote: 20 candidates but just nine seats to fill

THERE are 20 candidates to fill just nine seats – and local residents will have the job on September 10 to decide who will sit on Moree Plains Shire’s new council for the next four years.

Of the 20 candidates, 10 are putting their hands up for the first time, two are previous Moree councillors attempting to re-enter the fray – one of them a former mayor – and one has stood for council in the past but missed.

There are seven current councillors seeking re-election, including mayor Katrina Humphries and deputy mayor Sue Price.

The 20 candidates are indeed an eclectic lot and represent all sections of the community.

They include an FM breakfast announcer, retired shearer, Moree motelier, Chinese restaurateur, retired building contractor, solicitor, bookkeeper, former Moree mayor and a Gurley farmer.ElectionGroup

Also in the mix is a seafood restaurateur, juvenile court support case worker, special education teacher, retired hotelier, retired utilities regional manager, Justice Health clinical nurse specialist, retired medical centre practice manager, fuel depot manager, rural and agricultural supplies business owner, full-time councillor and Moree advocate and a music teacher.

Never before has a local election drawn so much interest from the rank-and-file, with shire residents’ chief concerns including the Moree Gateway Project, crime and drug-related social issues, residential rates and rate increase proposals, the shire’s vast rural road network and council spending.

The 20 candidates are all passionate about the future of Moree and district and listed below are their chief concerns.

In-depth profiles on all candidates will be posted in Group and stand-alone order at www.deluxecafemoree.com.au very soon and shared through Facebook.

Sue Price: “I believe that employment and ensuring that the shire has adequate services and facilities are main concerns –both are crucial to keeping people in the area”.

Brendan Munn: “The main issues are of course roads. We live in an area where we have an extreme road network for the population and keeping that network in shape is not just about grading or patching, it is the vigilance of policing those roads to prevent undue damage from grossly overloaded vehicles”.

Stephen Ritchie: “Law and order is a main issue, and civic leaders should be taking a more proactive role in establishing ways and means to curb crime. Council should be pushing for more police to be based here”.

George Chiu: “Moree needs greater employment opportunities for the younger generation as well as diversification of the local economy”.

Lucas Swan: “Moree Shire has a drug problem. There’s no easy way of discussing it but this is the reality. I work within the criminal justice system and through my discussions with community members, families of those affected, as well as local Police and Correctional Services’ officers, there is a general consensus that there is a drug and crime problem that is spiralling out of control within the shire”.

Rhonda Lang: “We need to address the number of closed shops in the main street and the inability to attract larger retail stores to establish outlets in Moree”.

Peter Strang: “Moree needs to sustain its position as a strong regional community.

Katrina Humphries: “Law and order, road maintenance, business confidence and keeping our population steady or improving are, I believe, some are the most pressing issues”.

Rodney Brazel: “I’m really worried about the social problems Moree and the shire has. Council must do better. We have poured thousands of dollars in to better sporting facilities, better parks and gardens and playground equipment. But, sadly, we have failed. At night, we have lost our streets”.

Mick Cikota: “In no particular order, crime, trying to attract new business, grain harvest management scheme protecting our water from coal seam gas and securing funding from MDBA for local enterprise”.

John Tramby: “Social issues, youth unemployment and the unsealed rural roads network need attention. Burnt-out houses are an eyesore and need cleaning up”.

Claudia Gall: “Our road network is central to our economic and social health. We have 2000 kilometres of gravel road, plus a huge agricultural production. How do we maintain and rebuild our road assets without federal and State grants. We must lobby for more money”.

Glen Crump: “We need to attract new business to Moree, finish projects that are still incomplete, upgrade facilities such as the amenities near Boolooroo Weir, keep our next generation in Moree and attract more funding to the town”.

Glen Ryan: “We need to get the empty shops occupied to boost the economy and employment opportunities for the youth of Moree”.

Michael Montgomery: “The roads are good, but could be better and the Gateway Project is an ongoing concern. I also feel that new job development is a priority”.

Greg Smith: “The increased cost of running council due to the State Government pushing their responsibilities onto local government and the inefficient way we do things is a main concern. The debt left from trying to revitalise Moree will drive people away through higher rates”.

Jenny Roberts: “We need immediate action on repairing and making safe the main street pavements – they are extremely dangerous when wet – and we need to step policing of cyclists who ride on footpaths”.

Jess Scully: “I strongly feel that the youth of Moree Plains Shire is not being represented very well. They need a voice at local government level”.

Jim Crawford: “It would be advantageous to diversify by attracting industry to the shire and having an abundant supply of good quality water under us should help with that”.

Kerry Cassells: “We need to increase CCTV coverage of all known crime hot spots in the shire and consider bringing back Neighbourhood Watch and Safe Houses for Moree and it villages to reduce crime and to have a safe haven for children, many of which are too afraid to go home”.

Voting will take place on Saturday, September 10 between 8am and 6pm.

Polling booths in Moree will be at Moree PCYC on Boston Street, Moree Memorial Hall on Balo Street and Moree Secondary College, Albert Street campus, as well as all villages in the Moree Plains Shire.

For postal voting or pre-poll voting, go to www.votensw.info for details or call 1300 135 736.

Copyright: Bill Poulos 2016

Disclaimer: The views and opinions published herein are those of the individual Moree Plains Shire Council election candidates.