Rhoades ahead in Coffs Council election
KEITH Rhoades is preparing to gather up the reins of the new Coffs Harbour City Council at the head of a group of councillors which will include many new faces.
Cr Rhoades said yesterday he expected to be joined in the council chamber by the Greens Mark Graham, Northern Beaches representative John Arkan, the No. 2 on his own ticket, Kerry Hines, and possibly also his No. 3, Denise Knight.
Cr Rhoades said Mrs Knight was polling strongly on below-the-line voting and would pick up preferences from Deborah Lions, but sitting councillor Ian Ovens looked like he could be in trouble.
Crs Jenny Bonfield and Bill Palmer are expected to be returned.
Cr Rhoades said yesterday he felt like grabbing a stubby and putting his feet up after a busy fortnight of campaigning, handing out how-to-vote cards at polling booths and officiating at yesterday's RTA Bonville Upgrade Community Open Day.
The Mayor, who will have completed five terms and 21 years in local government by 2012, said he did not think the council's sacking of former assistant general manager Kyme Lavelle, now the new general manager of Rous Water, had affected voting. He said no one had mentioned the issue to him on Saturday.
Cr Rhoades said in the next four years he wanted to 'blend the council together' like the previous council, which he said was the best group he had seen.
He said with many big ticket items for the city out of the way like sewerage and water for the Northern Beaches and Hogbin Drive North, it was important to look at the cultural precinct and entertainment centre for Brelsford Park and an injection of funds for the Botanic Garden to encourage tourism.
Cr Rhoades also wants to move ahead on projects for the open space at the Jetty foreshores, which he said was the only part of the area the council had control over. He mentioned a boardwalk and lighting. He said although a small group wanted no changes at the Jetty, the council was 'not turfed out holus bolus' over the Jetty and he wanted to see the area made 'more community friendly'.
In Bellingen, it could be days until the identity of the mayor is known after a cliffhanger three-way contest.
Following yesterday's checking of the count from Saturday, the standing mayor, Mark Troy, had 2297 votes and a 146-vote lead over Gordon Braithwaite (2151), with Jillian Cranny not far behind on 1866.