Lismore council contenders and wildcards revealed

WHILE the looming Federal Election has eclipsed Lismore City Council issues for our attention, let's not forget the local government election is scheduled for September.

Most campaigns, particularly those aligned with Country Labor and The Greens, will start in earnest after the Federal Election, making it a uniquely condensed race.

With Mayor Jenny Dowell officially announcing her retirement last week, we thought it was timely to see how the local government election was shaping up by asking councillors what their intentions were.

Pundits are already calling it an Isaac Smith vs Neil Marks mayoral race, but there may be some gains from The Greens camp after a successful state campaign last year.

Cr Isaac Smith

"Yes, and for mayor"

Deputy mayor Isaac Smith, the obvious choice to head the Country Labor ticket, revealed he would be heading the traditionally strong Country Labor ticket as well as run as a mayoral candidate.

"We will announce the ticket and the launch after the Federal Election so it will be a very condensed four to six week campaign this year," Mr Smith said.

"Jenny's are big shoes to fill," he said.

Cr Dowell revealed she would throw her support behind Cr Smith but not be endorsing any one Country Labor candidate.

Cr Smith boosted his by profile by narrowly missing a state seat in the tight three-horse race for Lismore, behind The Nationals' Thomas George and The Greens' Adam Guise in the state election last year.

Cr Neil Marks

"Yes, and for mayor"

Popular radio presenter Neil Marks will throw his hat in the ring for the position of mayor for the third time. Having just beat prostate cancer, he is now looking to beat Cr Smith in the mayoral race.

"Maybe it'll be the hat-trick that does it," he said.

He has previously held the title of deputy mayor and in the 2012 local government election was easily the electorate's second favourite for mayor with 21.7per cent of the vote. While that represented only half of Jenny Dowell's landslide vote, there was daylight between Marks and all other candidates.

Cr Marks revealed he had been completely cleared of cancer before Easter, and said there was 'no health issues'.

His wife Deborah has previously been on on the ticket, but it is undecided if she will join her husband's ticket in 2016.

Cr Glenys Ritchie

"It depends"

"I haven't made up my mind. It depends on how the new council will look," said the Country Labor councillor.

"I want the next council to be in good hands. I would encourage people to get involved at council meetings. The issues are complex and representatives need to be well-prepared. It's a big commitment and I want the good work to continue," she said.

Cr Gianpiero Battista

"Yes, and for mayor"

Mt Battista announced he would run again for council as well as running for the position of Mayor.

"I believe I have the experience and knowledge of our LGA to be able to cover this important role for our community," he said.

The well-known businessman boosted his profile last year when he ran in the state election for the Christian Democrat Party under Fred Nile in the state election of 2015.

Cr Greg Bennett

"Yes, and for mayor"

Cr Bennett confirmed he would be running again as mayor with a strong 'rates, roads and rubbish' campaign.

"I don't believe there is a 6:5 conservative-progressive split because the conservatives don't necessarily vote together as a block," he said.

In 2012, Cr Bennett secured only 7.8 per cent of the vote for mayor.

Cr Simon Clough

"Undecided"

"I'm still in the process of decision making," said the successful Gasfield-Free campaigner and current Deputy Mayor. Cr Clough who headed the Our Sustainable Future ticket in 2012.

Cr Vanessa Ekins

"Yes, and for mayor

"I intend to nominate for mayor. I will go through a pre-selection process with The Greens and and we will announce our candidates after the Federal Election," she said.

In 2012 Vanessa Ekins headed The Greens ticket, which attracted 11.2% of the vote and has since gained respect for her level of engagement on council issues. She has been a staunch advocate of council's Biodiversity Management Strategy and anti-fluoride campaigner.

Cr Ray Houston

"Will not recontest"

The 70-year-old councillor revealed he would not be running again for local council after his two terms in local government.

"There has been no star issue but it's a delight to see the gallery funded and the bones of a Biodiversity Management Strategy in place. It has been an honour to be of service," he said.

"I think it is about time a younger person came up. I'm happy to support candidates and you may see me out on the hustings in the lead up to the election," said the Country Labor stalwart.

Cr Graham Meineke

Undecided, possibly not

"Unless someone can put a persuasive argument to me, I will not be running," he said.

Cr Mathew Scheibel

Undecided

"I'm undecided due to my weighing up of time commitments. A lot of the progressives don't have a lot of work commitments. My heart is in it but I have to work out the balance," he said.

Wild Cards

Adam Guise

Guise confirmed he would be participating in The Greens' local government preselction process as he did in 2012. The Greens' golden-haired boy only narrowly missed out on winning the state election March 2015 by a whisker to Nationals MP Thomas George.

Whether he will be placed before or after sitting Greens councillor Vanessa Ekins on a Greens ticket is something for party members to decide.

Big Rob

Love it or hate it, the embattled social media maverick Robert 'Big Rob' Bou-Hamdan has confirmed his intention of running for Lismore City Council.

However, he admitted he had not yet filled in the paperwork or completed fielding a ticket. He is too late to register a party name, so intends to run as an independent.

The self-styled 'media personality' said one of his motivations for running was to 'keep an eye on' Cr Isaac Smith, who is looking to replace Mayor Jenny Dowell.

Andrew Gordon

It's no surprise that The Nationals supporter Andrew Gordon has shown interest in the local race. "It's too premature to announce anything yet, but it's reasonable to believe that I may be running for council again this year,' he said.

The sales agent and owner of R Gordon and Son has been vocal about state and local politics recent years. Whether it's his criticism of the Knitting Nannas Against Gas, or attacks on the progressives in relation to the council's Biodiversity Management Strategy, Mr Gordon is no shrinking violet.



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