Coffs Harbour City Council

Who wants to be a Coffs councillor?

WITH a Local Government election due in September this year, The Coffs Coast Advocate decided to poll the pollies and find out who is in the running to be a councillor for Coffs Harbour City.

And the results show a clear divide between who is staying, who is going and why.

David Featherstone was elected to Coffs Harbour City Council in March 2004 and he is not running again this year.

"Councillors don't have a lot of say, since the state government has control and the staff administrate," Cr Featherstone said.

"If I thought I could affect an outcome, I would stay"

Cr Featherstone said 95 per cent of decisions are made by the general manager and the only decisions that come before the councillors are 'controversial in terms of public perception'.

"The reality is that local councillors have no say in any of the major developments on the coast as they go straight to the state level," he said.

"Councillors are the people on the ground, we walk the streets and meet the people in the community, but we're totally powerless."

In his time with council, Cr Featherstone has tried to stay independent to make the hard decisions.

"It's been interesting, I've enjoyed my time as a councillor but I will not be running again."

Cr Ian Hogbin has yet to decide if he will run again this year, after being elected in 2004.

He highlights the process of the 2008/2011 Draft Management Plan as his reason for not saying either way.

"The management plan is an important part of council process and at the moment I am doing what I was elected to do by focusing on the plan," Cr Hogbin said.

"I don't see that I have to make a decision just yet as I have six months to go."

And then there's Cr Rod McKelvey, who is adamant he will run again in the September elections.

"I still have a desire to change the system and achieve something," Cr McKelvey said.

"I'd like to improve the standing between council and the community through more efficient methods of consultation, because I think there's a misplaced attitude of 'us versus them' in people's minds. And that gets in the way of the work between council and the community."

Cr McKelvey said he came into his role as a councillor with 'not a huge amount of experience' and he has been frustrated at times.

"But it's worthwhile hanging in there because at times there are terrific things you can do for the community."

Keep an eye on further editions of The Advocate to see who is running in the elections.


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