Douglas Shire bucks trend as fewer seek election


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Douglas Shire is bucking the trend in the March 28 Local Government election with its healthy list of councillor candidates and a mayoral challenge.

When nominations closed on March 3, there were nine confirmed councillor candidates, which included two incumbents, for the four available spots; and a challenge for mayor.

This is in sharp contrast to the rest of Queensland which has 77 local councils.

According to a report in The Australian, one in five mayors will be elected unopposed; and a survey commissioned by the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ), revealed that twice the number of existing councillors would not be seeking re-election.

Recently introduced State Government integrity laws, registers of interests and the banning of donations from property developers have affected mayoral races, and are among the reasons why there have been fewer candidates vying for a civic career.  

Another factor raised, which is believed to have been a major consideration, is the government’s crackdown on conflicts of interest in local councils.

But Douglas does not appear to be affected and candidates have firm views on why this election has attracted the large amount of interest.

Lisa Scomazzon, one of the nine councillor candidates and owner of Newell Beach Takeaway, said the reason is people want to see change.

“We want to see change and as a business owner, we have concerns about the economy. We need progression; we need to see the town get moving.

“What we also don’t want to see are businesses closing. We’ve already seen a lot of closures with an average of two to three per year,” she said.

In outlining her motivation for running for a councillor position, Scomazzon highlighted the delivery of basic services for our youth from bus shelters to broader sports and most importantly for our founders of this Shire: the elderly.

“The current Council has lost sight of most core responsibilities, evidenced by the state of both our roads and parks and the lack of basic infrastructures despite ever increasing Council rates. Rates which post de-amalgamation were not to increase above CPI, but have,” she said.

And Kym Rowley, General Manager of the Tin Shed, and a councillor candidate, believes that the large number of locals that are candidates in the upcoming Council election is due to the direction the last council has taken us.

“Those who have currently served as Councillors, and have put their names forward again, believe that the direction they have taken us is the right direction.

“I, along with others that are standing, are questioning that.

“I feel that we all acknowledge that something needs to be done regarding caring for our environment.

However, Council must get the basics right first and then lead the residents and ratepayers on a journey on where we should be going.

“At the end of the day, Council is funded by the ratepayers and therefore they should have a say. Decisions should not be made on the run, but should be planned. At the end of the day, those voting will give the incoming Council an idea of what they want by who they vote for,” said Rowley.

Douglas Shire candidates:

Mayoral candidates:

• Julia Leu
• Michael Kerr

Councillor candidates:

• Abigail Noli
• Bruce Clarke
• Kym Rowley
• Lisa Scomazzon
• Natalie Johnson
• Peter McKeown
• Roy Zammataro
• Steve Cruickshank
• Terry Melchert

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