Kyogle and Ballina voters reshape councils

KYOGLE and Ballina have elected a raft of new councillors, including two women on each council.

In a near clean sweep, Kyogle voters elected seven new people to their council. Ballina residents elected four new faces, while ejecting council stalwart John Felsch. Both councils had their new councillors named yesterday.

Saturday's poll was the first election worthy of the name in eight years for parts of Kyogle, with residents from A and B wards finally getting more candidates than positions.

Successful B Ward candidate Lynette Zito said there was a real buzz on election day. “There were people queuing at the polling booths before they opened. It seemed people were really wanting to have their say,” she said.

Janet Wilson was also successful in A Ward and Kyogle mayor Ernie Bennett said he was glad the two members of the Council Election Group (CEG), formed in 2006 by resident wanting to learn about local government processes, were voted in.

“They have worked hard so I'm glad a few got in,” he said. “To have two female councillors will also be good.”

Ms Zito was looking forward to taking her seat on the council and 'actually affecting change' instead of observing meetings as she had done during the past two years.

Cr Bennett wasn't surprised that he and fellow C Ward councillor Lindsay Passfield were the only two returning councillors.

“Four councillors weren't running this year, and to have three councillors replaced isn't that unusual,” he said.

While there have been seven councillors replaced, not all are new to local politics. A Ward councillor Ross Brown has previously served on Kyogle Council and B Ward's Robert Dwyer has served as mayor of Glen Innis.

The nine elected councillors will vote for Kyogle's new mayor at their first council meeting on September 29.

Cr Bennett, who has been mayor for the past nine years, confirmed he will be standing for the position again, despite just scraping in as the third councillor voted in for C Ward.

“I paid the price for taking it a bit too cheap,” he said. “Four years ago I got almost double the number of votes, but this time I didn't print a single thing or make a single ad. I also had a new and strong candidate in my ward and didn't mind losing votes to him.”

Cr Bennett said this would be an exciting term for Kyogle councillors, with the World Rally Championships taking place next year.

He also predicted 'strong views and healthy debate' on the controversial rezoning of Kyogle industrial land.

At Ballina, returned councillor David Wright, who took up the first position in C Ward and was also a strong contender for the position of mayor, said he was eager to get on with the job.

“It is reassuring to know I have strong support from the community,” Cr Wright said.

“I'm looking forward to working with a mixture of new and old councillors.”

In A Ward, two women, Sue Meehan and Robyn Hordern, were elected to the council.

They join the third female councillor, Sharon Cadwallader, re-elected in B Ward.

“I think it's great we have a more balanced council now,” Cr Cadwallader said.

“I'm looking forward to starting with a clean slate.”

Former A Ward councillor John Felsch, who also ran for mayor, was not re-elected.

“After 38 years in council, you've got to be disappointed,” he said.

“But it is not unexpected. Most of the others (candidates) didn't advocate their voters giving me any preferences.”

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Election results – NSW local govt elections, 2008.

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