Tweed Shire Councillor Warren Polglase.
Tweed Shire Councillor Warren Polglase. Alina Rylko

Polglase the favourite ahead of annual mayoral vote

VETERAN Tweed Shire Councillor Warren Polglase has a good chance of securing his third stint as mayor at Thursday night's annual vote.

If he is successful in toppling current mayor Gary Bagnall, he will become the shire's third leader in as many years.

According to one councillor, the majority have pledged not to support Cr Bagnall again.

Mayor Bagnall and Cr Warren Polglase have both confirmed they are throwing their hat in the ring.

Former mayor Cr Barry Longland has also indicated it was  his intention to stand again.

He could not contest the last mayoral election for lack of a seconder.

But Cr Longland said he would hold talks with his colleagues to seek support.

Cr Polglase will have the backing of fellow conservatives Carolyn Byrne and Phil Youngblutt.

Cr Bagnall can count on Greens councillor Katie Milne's support, but that still leaves him short of a majority.

"If Warren wins the mayoral election the council would be in the hands of the three ultra pro-development conservative councillors," Cr Milne said this week.

"These councillors have shown that they are willing to promote a development agenda at any cost.

"The community made it very clear in the 2012 election that they wanted to steer right away from the bad old days of the developer-driven."

Cr Phil Youngblutt said conservative councillors and Longland had pledged not to back Bagnall.

"One thing we're all united on is (he) has to go. He's been terrible," said Youngblutt.

As mayor, Cr Longland said he would best represent the views of ex-councillor Michael Armstrong, who quit in July.

That is despite Mr Armstrong blaming Cr Longland for forcing him to resign by leading a successful move to reject his apology for absence due to family reasons.

At the time Cr Armstrong said he held "grave fears for the future of the Tweed" because council was being "increasingly dominated" by a pro-development stance, due to Cr Longland now increasingly siding with conservative councillors.

"We were somewhat aligned," Cr Longland said of Mr Armstrong.

"We've got population pressure and that we need to meet those population demands but not in a way that will compromise our natural values and assets."

Deputy mayor Phil Youngblutt said Cr Polglase was better suited to the mayoralty because he had 30 years' local government experience and strong political contacts.

"He was a very good mayor," Cr Youngblutt said of Cr Polglase's first reign in 2005 when the entire Tweed Shire Council was dismissed following an inquiry that found it was improperly influenced by developers.

"He is very balanced; he has a lot of contacts, which is a big help. A bloke like Gary Bagnall basically has none," he said.

Cr Bagnall said if the council reverts to Cr Polglase as mayor the shire will be unfairly influenced by the Liberal National state government.

"They would not have a clue what contacts I have. Their contacts are with the old National Party," he said.

"We don't want to go back to the days when the council was sacked and everything was done for developer mates."

Cr Bagnall has also been embroiled in controversy.

In 2014, for example, he was reprimanded for his personal inquiries into the investigator who was looking into his 2012 property trespassing incident.

Cr Bagnall said one of his strengths was that he was not a "yes man" or bureaucrat.

"I have fought for sustainable development, for the environment, for better services and for individuals throughout the shire.

"Warren won't, it is as simple as that."

Cr Polglase countered by stating he was a conservative but independent, with Labor and Liberal contacts. His focus would be Tweed's economy and an education precinct at Cobaki.

"I'm all about proactivity, productivity and jobs, and I think that's what Tweed wants," he said.

"The Tweed is very big on trades, over half our population is involved in construction.

"We need to be churning out some nice-style properties and developments and at present we don't have land for sale."

Cr Polglase was on life support earlier this year with pneumonia, but said he was now in good health.

"I'm back to what I was before (the illness)," he said.

He said the community had moved on from the council's dismissal a decade ago.

"I was re-elected 12 months later and second time around I topped the poll."

If Cr Longland does support Cr Bagnall, votes will be split evenly.

That means lady luck will decide the next mayor of the Tweed by a draw from a hat.



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