Degens: Decide your own preferences
MAYORAL candidate Rod Degens wants the people of Coffs Harbour to use their own thoughts when deciding who should lead Coffs Harbour City Council for the next four years rather than allowing preference choices dictated to them to select who will be Mayor.
Cr Degens isn't asking for anyone who votes for him this Saturday to preference another particular candidate instead preferring voters make their own choices.
"I decided not to preference due to an overwhelming sense of distrust and dissatisfaction held by the people of Coffs Harbour regarding the outcomes of previous elections, preferring instead to allow the people of Coffs Harbour to vote confidently for the candidate they prefer," Cr Degens said.
The importance of second preference votes was made clear at the last mayoral election when incumbent Mayor Keith Rhoades defeated Greens candidate Mark Graham by 5,058 votes after preferences were taken into account.
The margin might've been much less had 6,000 voters marked a second preference on their ballot sheets rather than simply putting a '1' next to the candidate of their choice.
At the election held four years ago, Cr Degens ran on the Greens ticket and was elected alongside Cr Graham.
Since then Cr Degens has split from the Greens and is running this Saturday as an independent.
He said the reasons for leaving the Greens are simple and without acrimony.
"Constant disagreement internally within the Greens led to my splitting from the Greens, however my relationship with those members has remained positive since then," he said.
The split was mentioned in a media release from a rival mayoral candidate last week but Cr Degens said there was nothing sinister from either party involved in the split.
"My split with the Greens as mentioned by Cr Knight was painful at the time but necessary. I was 'a round peg in a square hole'," he said.
As an independent, Cr Degens said he can push for the issues close to his beliefswithout worrying about toeing any party lines.
"As I mentioned during the Advocate Forum on Thursday, jobs, the need for a more robust local economy is the strongest platform on which I am standing," he said.
"I also believe that Coffs Harbour does have the need to seriously look at an entertainment centre, something that Garry Innes, speaking on behalf of Denise Knight at the forum described as 'something that the people of Coffs Harbour may not want'.
"As for the foreshores, enough time has been spent on community consultation down there, it's time to get the chainsaws out and perform some regular maintenance of the vegetation, in a sensitive manner, to extract views of greatest value, while preserving as much of the vegetation as we can. The harbour should be a generator of income for the city, not a money pit."