After more than 50 years as an engineer, town planner and elected council representative, Esme Martens is still passionate about local government.
That’s why she is standing for re-election to the Mid-Western Regional Council in the September 10 election.
Cr Martens heads the C Group on the ballot paper, which also includes Denise Jamieson, Keith Smith, Andrew Sauerbier and Dianne Brown.
Cr Martens, a councillor for the past 10 years, said her team is standing on a platform of open, transparent governance.
She warned that the next four years would be challenging for the Mid-Western Regional Council.
“Mid-Western Regional Council has been declared ‘Unfit for the Future’ mainly because its ratio of grant funding compared to rates is out of balance,” she said.
“Council has been very successful in achieving grant funding but this may not continue in future.
“Due to the downturn in mining, there will be less ability to get new voluntary planning agreement (VPA) funds and regional mining infrastructure funds.
“We are going to have to find new ways of getting additional revenue. The next few years are going to be challenging, but I think I have the skills to help council achieve this.”
Cr Martens supports diversification in the local economy, including tourism growth and value-adding in agriculture.
She believes the Mudgee Saleyards must be retained so that local sellers do not have to travel to Carcoar to sell livestock. She also advocates the reinstatement of village forums to give rural people a voice.
Cr Martens said her team would bring diversity and experience to council, as well as addressing the shortage of women and seniors represented.
“We need more women in local government,” she said.
“Fifty percent of the population are women and yet in urban areas of NSW, about 25 per cent of councillors are women and in rural areas it is less,” she said.
“My group will be consultative and represent the whole of the shire.”