THE common thread between the council election candidates who took part in a forum at Club Lithgow last week was the need for a united front in the new council.
Twenty one of the 40 candidates for the September 8 election took the opportunity to present their credentials to a capacity audience while some of the others who were present left it to their team leaders to make the presentations.
Because of the numbers involved the candidates were each allowed just a few minutes.
Over supper at the conclusion of the addresses the members of the audience had the opportunity to discuss their views with the candidates.
Several in the audience later told the Lithgow Mercury they were impressed with the quality of the candidates and the wide choice being offered to voters this year.
The attendance at the getting-to-know-you session was far greater than at a similar forum organised by the Lithgow Business Association prior to the 2008 local government elections.
Here, very briefly, are points made by the candidates, in the order they appeared:
MICHAEL ALEXANDER: General Manager of the Workmens Club and proud of the club’s financial stability and pending investment of $5 million in a new motel. A solidly pro development council is needed to encourage diversity.
STEVE JACKSON: Secretary of Wallerawang Bowling Club. “I’m sick of picking up the paper and reading about the stupid antics of our representatives.”
ANTHONY CRAIG: National vice president of the DLP. Came to Lithgow as an ambulance paramedic wanting to live in a safe community, now working in private sector. “I want to help reverse the decline in employment opportunities.” *
RAY THOMPSON: Retired businessman and sitting councillor. ‘The council has achieved much despite difficulties. The fact that two universities are to have a presence in Lithgow is a good indication as is the level of new sporting facilities but there is much still to be don e.” *
JULIE DAWES: This is a community I fell in love with when I moved here. I have a passion for the town and want to be part of a team of councillors who can think outside the square. Councillors need to have some respect for the community they represent.
JEFF THURLOW: Manager of the Lithgow Centrelink office. Jeff had previous experience as a local government councillor in South Australia ‘so I know what I’m in for’. A lot of groundwork has been done but we now need a team that can progress this to a conclusion. Jeff is an advocate of more nature walks and for utilising the Theatre Royal and old TAFE building.
WAYNE McANDREW: Sitting councillor and national vice president of the CFMEU Mining and Energy Division. We need people on council who will talk up what’s good about our community and its people, not talk it down. We also need greater encouragement for small business.
FRANK INZITARI: Local businessman. There are a lot of quality candidates. I hope we all want the same outcome with common interests for our community. I want to see more emphasis on a range of activities for youth.
MAREE STATHAM: Portland business woman. I have a passion for driving this district forward. We need to restore our present and preserve our future. The (defeated) move by the present council to extend the minimum block sizes for rural subdivisions was counterproductive. This is the most important election since the amalgamation of Lithgow City Council and Blaxland Shire Council.
COL HUNTER: Sitting councillor and Mt Lambie landholder. We have to campaign for the advancement of the little villages in our area. The economy of the district will rely on coal and power generation for a long time but we also need to advance our tourism potential. I would also like to see another dam to truly drought proof the smaller towns and villages.
CASSIE HARVISON: Without significant change my children will most probably have to leave for their education and jobs. There is an overwhelming feeling in the community of the need for new faces on council so I put my hand up.
KATHY DICKSON: A member of Frank Inzitari’s team and sharing a common determination to advance the progress of Greater Lithgow.
SUE GRAVES: Tidy Towns chairman. I have a track record of helping make things happen through Tidy Towns. The Tidy Towns achievements prove you can really make things happen if there’s a will. We have to work together towards a more vibrant CBD in our towns.
CASSANDRA COLEMAN: Portland resident, public servant. A business park and approval for stage two of Mt Piper power station must be priorities for the new council. I am passionate about greater community consultation on civic matters and moves to keep our kids in the community.
ANNA IUS: Lithgow businesswoman and a member of a family with a long background in the coal industry. We have to start re-inventing ourselves now and capitalise on our biggest asset which is tourism. I want to see the Zig Zag up and running again and extended through to Eskbank Station.
PAUL PHILLIPS: Lithgow book store proprietor. Concerns for steps to advance the district’s business community. My express purpose is to try to assist business. We have a problem with people who go to Bathurst or Penrith to go to the movies and stop to do their shopping there. We need loyalty rewards to keep people shopping here. And we also need to make our shopfronts more inviting so we at least look like a thriving community to impress investors and shoppers.
STEVE MARSHALL: Wallerawang resident and Delta Electricity employee. Education and opportunity brought me here. I came for 12 months and 20 years later I’m still here in the power stations. If you can bring people here there is a good chance they will stay. If they go away they probably won’t come back.
MURRAY BESLEY: Thales employee. We all appear to be singing from the same hymn book but I’m standing because I believe I can do it better. The new council will have a term of four years to get it right.
JUSTIN COOMBES-PEARCE: Radio 2LT and Move FM employee. We are full of untapped business and tourism potential. First we need to eradicate the ratepayers versus council mentality.
JEFF DEAN: Delta Electricity employee. Safety in our streets is a main priority. There was a time when you could walk from one end of Lithgow to the other and feel safe but not any more due to drunks, vandals, druggies and drug dealers. We don’t have to accept that. Encouraging more affordable participation in sport is a means of addressing social problems. Serious attention also is needed for the amount of local work going to out of town contractors.
* Anthony Craig and Ray Thompson were away from Lithgow on the night but provided written statements which were read out on their behalf by LBA secretary Glenda Anthes.