MORE than 200 voters turned out at the Coffs Harbour Deep Sea Fishing Club on Thursday night for the Advocate's Council candidate's forum.

All of the mayoral candidates addressed the assembled crowd outlining their positions on the issues leading up to the poll on September 8.

Those running independently for a position on council were also allowed a short address as were the leaders of council groups that didn't have a mayoral candidate within their group.

This was then followed by the mayoral candidates each responding to a burning question that online readers have wanted to ask.

Speaking in the order they will appear on the ballot paper meant Bob Palmer was first to the podium.

Mr Palmer pointed out the importance of tourism to Coffs Harbour's economy.

He said he'd like to see a business levy introduced to help fund projects as well as creating funds for a marketing campaign.

Mr Palmer also added greater use of the airport needs to found to faciltate greater tourist numbers.

Incumbent mayor Keith Rhoades was next to take the microphone and he pointed out the infrastructure that has been created in his 21 years as a Councillor.

Cr Rhoades explained with the building blocks and foundations set, now is the time for Coffs Harbour to move forward and said Coffs Harbour is the only local government area ready to move forward.

Jeweller John Donaldson who has experience on Glen Innes Council prior to moving to the area again highlighted his desire for Council to hold public meetings where members of the community can bring forward their ideas.

Mr Donaldson also highlighted the need for transparency and financial restraint and vociferously opposed funding of a football team from outside the region.

Cr Denise Knight was unable to attend as she was out of the region attending a family event. Her place at the lectern was taken by the number two candidate on her Group C ticket Garry Innes.

Mr Innes said the focus for his team and Cr Knight was the development of not just a skate park but a youth park and the creation of a position for a youth development officer.

He reaffirmed the commitment to redevelopment of the Foreshore area and promised Cr Knight would open the lines of communication between Council and the region's state and federal members.

Rod Degens said the local economy does not function and the city is locked up because of the primacy of the CBD.

Cr Degens would also like to see a grant officer hired who would be a professional fund raiser who would be externally contracted.

Leo Muller said he would like to see an opening up of council.

He said it was currently difficult for members of the public to ask questions of council and even more difficult to get answers. Mr Muller said the public needs to be involved in the process of council. A council he believes needs to be more united.

Greens candidate Sally Townley has drawn on her experience as a biological scientist to contend a large role of local government is responsible planning: "what to put where".

Dr Townley promised sensible development, improved public transport with an eye on future villages and suburbs being created and said transparency in council is simply about "honesty and accountability".

John Arkan was the final mayoral candidate to address the interested onlookers.

Cr Arkan noted that fundamentally the people of Coffs Harbour are frustrated before asking the question: "How can we solve the needs of the community?"

He said what is missing at the moment is funds.

Cr Arkan said money should be spent after a proper cost benefit analysis is made to ensure Coffs Harbour is getting maximun value for the dollars Council will be spending.

Group G leader Rob McLennon spoke on behalf of his group as did Country Labor group leader David Quinn.

Independent candidates Ian Sutherland, Rev Dr Graham Whelan and barrister Peter Davies also spoke with passion.

With eight days to go until the election, hearing each candidate speak made the picture a little clearer about where each of them stands on each issues that have been concerning the community.

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