Silence is deafening -- Nothing to declare from conservative camp

TWEED Shire Council upcoming election has degenerated into a guessing game of who will stand, with the prospect conservative voters may not even get a choice.

Local conservative leaders are worried no-one from their side of politics will be prepared to put up their hand for the role following the sacking of the last conservative-dominated council by the NSW government in early 2005.

The only candidates to so far indicate they will run are former independent councillor Dot Holdom, accountant Terry Sharples who is embroiled in a legal dispute with the council, Greens supporter Peter Rae of Condong and four members of a "community groups" ticket headed by Uki and District Residents Association president Barry Longland.

The Australian Labor Party is understood to be considering fielding a team, with registrations of interested Labor candidates closing last Tuesday.

President of the Tweed Nationals Murray Lees yesterday said that although his party did not formally endorse local government candidates he was worried conservative voters may have no-one to choose from, with former mayor Warren Polglase still saying he has not made a decision on running again.

"I haven't heard of anyone running from the conservative side," said Mr Lees.

"It's a worry there is nothing happening in the Tweed. For the sake of democracy it's important to have conservative candidates.

"Some are scared off. The last time they ran they were democratically elected and as soon as they got in they were sacked by the state government.

"If we do get a conservative council they will be sacked again."

But with the election just over two months away, on September 13, Mr Lees admitted getting four high-profile candidates necessary for a majority of seven councillors was looking less likely.

He predicted Labor could take control of the council if it managed to get two candidates elected, the greens one candidate, and one independent supportive of Labor.

Independent Dot Holdom, who runs a cafe in Kingscliff, however, believes potential conservative candidates are simply "playing their cards close to the chest" and have been holding back until details of new rules regarding campaign donations and declaring them were announced by the state government last week.

"They are wondering how to get around the rules," Ms Holdom said.

"There will be a stampede when it suits them. I wonder if it took them this long to propose to their wives or husbands."

Ms Holdom predicted other former councillors would stand, with the quip "what goes around comes around".

Former mayor Warren Polglase, who has declined to declare if he will run, said the scarcity of conservative candidates had been "talked about" among people he knew.

"One of the talking points is what are we going to do," he said.

Mr Polglase said he knew of no one else from the conservative side who had put up their hand and he was being asked "by lots of people" if he would.

"I've got to the middle of August to make a decision," he said.



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