Ballina Council Mayor David Wright. Photo Contributed
Ballina Council Mayor David Wright. Photo Contributed

Ballina council elections - who will and who won’t

ALL eyes may be on the upcoming Federal Government election but the local council elections will follow hot on the heels, taking place in September.

Although early, it looks like Ballina Shire Council may see some big changes, with the majority of councillors, most of whom have served two terms or more, unsure whether or not they will return.

This week, we asked each of the current Ballina councillors whether they would be running for council again come September local government elections, and would they be putting their hand up for mayor?

Cr David Wright (current mayor)

Yes and yes for mayor

BALLINA’S current mayor David Wright has confirmed he will be running for the position of mayor again in the September local government elections.

Cr Wright said September would mark 29 years for him in Ballina Shire Council.

He first served as mayor in 1999 before stepping down in 2001 to focus on family.

In 2012, Cr Wright ran for mayor again and was successful.

Despite a hectic couple of years with his council in the national and international limelight over shark attacks and mitigation strategies, Cr Wright said he would be running for office again, in large part, to see through the completion of many of his council’s key long-running assets.

“We’re reaching a stage now with our entrepreneurial assets in the industrial estates and buildings and the airport that we’re able to deliver on a lot of things that people have been asking for for a long time,” he said.

Cr Wright said next year, community members could see progress on the two swimming pools, the boat storage shed at the Ballina surf club, the marine tower and the coastal pathways to Lennox Head, to name a few.

“Because there’s a lot of councillors not standing again, I just want to make sure there’s a team to continue to support that sort of entrepreneur work,” he said.

“I’m dedicated to it (council) and hopefully people nominating to be councillors will be the same.”

Cr Robyn Hordern


Cr Hordern was elected to Ballina Shire council in 2008. When asked if she would be running for council again, Cr Hordern joked that two terms was “long enough for an American president” but said there were still projects she’d like to see completed.

“There’s always ongoing things to be completed,” she said. “That’s the frustration of being on council. Patience is part of your charter.”

She said her key achievements so far have been the upgrade of the main street, helping to get the shared coastal pathway to its current point, the Ballina surf club, and being heavily involved in the transformation of the Ballina wall.

Ballina councillor Robyn Hordern
Ballina councillor Robyn Hordern

Cr Susan Meehan

Won’t be standing for re-election

Cr Sue Meehan was first elected to Ballina Shire Council representing A Ward in September 2008, and re-elected in 2012.

When her two terms ends, Cr Meehan said she wouldn’t be putting her hand up for re-election and instead focusing on her family, which now includes three young grandchildren.

Cr Meehan said she was proud of her two years serving as the chair of Rous Water and particularly proud of introducing fluoridated water to three local government areas.

She said she was also proud of making north wall what it is today, being an instrumental part of the street trees program and more recently, working on the $1.5 million pressure and leakage management plan. 

Ballina councillor Sue Meehan.
Ballina councillor Sue Meehan.

Cr Sharon Cadwallader

Yes and yes for mayor

Cr Sharon Cadwallader has been part of the Ballina Shire Council since 2004.

In the 2012 Ballina Shire Council elections, Cr Cadwallader received the highest number of primary votes for mayor – four more than current mayor David Wright – but lost after the distribution of preferences.

Cr Cadwallader said her decision to run again and for mayor came from the honour and privilege of serving the community.

“When you’ve made a decision or changed someone’s life for the better… it gives you such a great feeling, you just want to keep doing it,” she said. “It takes a lot of time and effort but it’s worth it.”

Cr Cadwallader said she had a lot to contribute, particularly with her work on the commercial services unit and its investment in infrastructure.

Ballina councillor Sharon Cadwallader
Ballina councillor Sharon Cadwallader

Cr Jeff Johnson

Yes and yes for mayor

Cr Jeff Johnson has been in Ballina Shire Council for two terms, after being first elected in 2008.

“I’ve learnt a lot on that time and I feel ready to be the mayor and fell it’s time

for a bit of a generational shift to move towards the future,” he said.

As well as local council, Cr Johnson has run as a Greens candidate and Independent for the state elections.

He said his current passion projects were community infrastructure, and in particular the push for an ocean pool at Shelly Beach and shade sales over all the children’s play areas.

“We’ve got a lot of new sub divisions and growth so we need to be sure we manage that in a way so quality of life for existing residents improves as it grows, rather than diminishes,” he said. 

Ballina councillor Jeff Johnson.
Ballina councillor Jeff Johnson. Contributed

Cr Keith Williams

Yes and yes for mayor

Cr Keith Williams, who was first elected as a councillor in 2012, said he was keen to run for the position again, and this time, would be putting his hand up for the top job as well.

“It feels for me like the job’s unfinished and there are a bunch of things I’d like to see happened and that have frustrated me over the last four years that we haven’t been able to make progress,” he said.

Cr Williams said his biggest issues were flood management and projects around the river like the development and construction of marinas, the bar, and improving the health of the river.

He said his biggest achievements so far include the formation of the Ballina taskforce and pushing to address some of those issues of the river.

Ballina councillor Keith Williams
Ballina councillor Keith Williams Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Cr Keith Johnson


One of the longest serving councillors, Cr Johnson is now in his sixth term having first been elected to council in 1983.

He is a professional engineer with a master’s degree in management and 23 years’ experience in the RAAF.

Cr Johnson said unless he gets a sudden burst of energy closer to September, the likelihood is he wouldn’t run for council again due to age.

He said he considers his role as “the fella that initiated the commercial services” one of his biggest achievements, helping to grow it over the years and put an estimated $30 million back into community infrastructure like pools, airports, playing fields and sports facilities.

Ballina councillor Keith Johnson
Ballina councillor Keith Johnson

Cr Ben Smith


Cr Ben Smith, who is currently serving his second term, said he would have to look at future commitments and how they would fit with another four year term before making a decision.

He said if he were to stay in council, it would be to see the completion of long term projects like the Ballina and Alstonville pool upgrades and the Ballina indoors sports facility.

“The big thing for me is the indoor sports facility,” he said. “Council is working on a potential partnership with the education department… and I want to make sure that whatever arrangement comes out of that, it’s something long-term for the community.”

Cr Smith said he was proud of how the last two terms of councillors had been responsible and worked to keep the council in good financial shape.

“For me, it’s about being able to leave it saying financially we left it as a good, sustainable council… and were also able to deliver infrastructure and keep things in check.

Ballina councillor Ben Smith. Photo Contributed
Ballina councillor Ben Smith. Photo Contributed Contributed

Cr Paul Worth


Cr Paul worth was first elected to Ballina Shire Council in September 2012.

Before leaving Sydney in 1987 and moving to the Ballina Shire, Paul was a successful motorcycle dealer operating a number of retail premises.

Over the past 25 years, Paul has bred cattle, grown avocados, developed rural and residential property and restored heritage buildings in our area, including the Alstonville Butter Factory.

No picture available.

Cr Ken Johnston

Ballina councillor Ken Johnston.
Ballina councillor Ken Johnston. Contributed

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