Sharples taking plunge again to run for council
TWEED Heads resident Kaye Sharples has thrown her hat in the ring and will re-contest the Tweed Shire Council election on a platform calling for a ward system for the shire.
Mrs Sharples - who ran a neighbourhood group at the 2012 council election with the campaign slogan "No Political Parties in Local Government” securing 4.7% of the primary vote - is taking the plunge again and contesting the 2016 poll.
The Sharples Group is one of 15 to contest the October 29 poll, with an additional four solo individuals also in the running.
Her late entry to the election (she didn't nominate the first time around) comes after she and other Tweed Heads residents were disappointed at the lack of a Tweed Heads candidate in the original race.
"Our objective is to instigate a ward system for the 2020 election, which would divide the shire into three geographical wards with three councillors elected to each,” Mrs Sharples said.
"This will allow more effective representation of people's interests in their particular ward.
"People want to know and develop relationships with their local councillors. Our population in 2020 will reach around 110,000. It is impossible to expect a councillor to have the capacity or the local knowledge to address concerns from all parts of the shire.”
Mrs Sharples, who is backed by prominent Tweed resident Warren Keats, founder of the Tweed Heads Historical Society, said currently, the majority of those who ran for office were people with big party backing.
"So we constantly finish up with two political sides on council,” she said.
"This is what leads to all the vitriolic bickering that our community is so sick of. When you are elected from 15,000 people you are accountable to them and work very hard at being proactive in the area to act on any resident concerns.”
Mrs Sharples said a benefit of the ward system would be to reduce the influence of major political parties allowing for greater local democracy.
"Wards mean more power to the people,” she said.
However, Mrs Sharples, who has taken up swimming as she recovers from a recent hip operation, said her group had a battle on its hands as it would be up against the major parties across the shire.
She urged voters to check the various how-to-vote tickets to see how the major parties were cross-preferencing each other, to "shut out genuine non-political groups like ours”.
Pre-polling booths open on October 17.