Some Mid-Western Regional Councillors have decided whether they will throw their hats in the ring in the upcoming local government elections, which will take place on September 4, 2021.
The Mudgee Guardian reached out to current Councillors to find out their plans.
Councillor John O'Neill
When the Mudgee Guardian contacted Cr O'Neill on October 15, he said he was 'more likely' to not run but wouldn't make a firm decision at the time. "Never say never, but it's looking like at this point I won't run," he said.
If Cr O'Neill runs, he said his main priorities would be the commencement of the Aquatic Centre, the redevelopment of Flirtation Hill, and parking within the Mudgee CBD.
He said he was content with what he has achieved on Council.
"The three things that I had five years ago was the development of the new Hospital, which has happened, the Aquatic Centre, and the funding for that is nearly at fruition and the third was accountability of ratepayers' funds and Council is currently in a very strong financial position
Cr O'Neill has served on Council for five years.
Councillor Percy Thompson
Cr Thompson told the Mudgee Guardian on October 15 that he would be standing reelection in December.
He said he would aim to be fair, honest and listen to the community.
"What Councillors need to remember is they're not there to represent their views, they're there to represent the community. Some people get elected to enhance the community, others get elected to enhance themselves."
"I've been elected eight times so I feel I've satisfied the community and I've listened to them."
Cr Thompson has served 32 years on Council.
Councillor Esme Martens
Cr Martens told the Mudgee Guardian on October 15 that she will indeed be running for reelection.
If Cr Martens is re-elected she said her main focus would be on advocating for a larger share of the budget to be spent on roads and for a fairer rating system especially for farmers.
"I would support projects which are feasible and economically justified in the towns of Gulgong, Rylstone and Kandos and village areas. I would support investigation of investment opportunities which could reduce rates. I would seek to represent all areas of the shire and not merely the area I live in," she said.
Cr Martens said she believes that she has achieved a great deal during her time on Council.
"I have successfully advocated for completion of a number of major projects such as sealing of Bylong Valley Way, construction of Carwell Creek Bridge, major improvements to Show Grounds and Public Halls, development of the Land Use Strategy and DCP for the Shire, affordable housing and assistance with community projects such as land for a group home at Kandos and funds to purchase the Charity Shop at Kandos."
"For my service to Local Government and the community I have been awarded an AM and in 2014 I received a lifetime achievement award from the Minister for Local Government and Minister for Women."
Cr Martens has served on Council for 15 years.
Councillor Paul Cavalier
Cr Cavalier told the Mudgee Guardian on October 15 that he would be running again.
"I believe I've had enough experience now to make more of a meaningful difference in my role as Councillor," he said.
"I believe I'm at a point in my political career where I can use the knowledge and experience that I've had to drive a more meaningful outcomes in my battles for the ratepayers, and our region."
If Cr Cavalier is re-elected, he said he would continue to lobby the State Government for improved health services across our entire region.
He also said his priority is to future-proof the region against shifts in major industries (changes in the mining sector, including the introduction and adoption of renewable energy sources) and the follow-on effect that would have on local industries and businesses.
"I would work to attract new industries to our towns, including the provision of financial incentives for new industries to move to our region and create additional employment and opportunities for locals. I'd like to revisit my idea for the development of a technology park in our region.
Cr Cavalier said he is very happy with his achievements on Council.
"I am confident that I could provide even more if given the opportunity to serve another term."
Cr Cavalier has served nine years on Council.
Deputy Mayor Sam Paine
In June, Cr Paine said he will be standing for re-election to Council, and in the next term would like to see key outstanding projects completed.
"I think it takes two terms to really get settled in, get started on something and see it through to the end, especially major projects like the Art Gallery and old TAFE site that we're working on," he said.
If Cr Paine is re-elected, he would aim to see the Mudgee Arts Precinct established and secure ongoing funding for its future.
"I'd like to continue to prepare the council for a changing future, the town is changing a lot and our economy is going to change in the future. So putting things in place now while we're prosperous, that will benefit us in the future when things change."
Cr Paine has been pleased with Council's achievements over the current term.
"It feels like we've achieved a lot of things, and all the Councillors have worked really well together over the past few years. It's been productive."
Cr Paine has served five years on Council.
Councillor Peter Shelley
In June, Cr Shelley said he will standing for re-election to Council, and is excited to announce a team when nominations open.
"We have a strong, diverse, community-minded group ready to go with no other agenda than focusing on our community," he said.
If Cr Shelley is re-elected, his main priorities would be to make sure things are financially balanced between community needs and wants.
"I'd work towards the right decisions for our community and still fight against narcissistic egos and hidden agendas that are detrimental to the community."
Cr Shelley said over his time on Council he has made significant achievements, but his job isn't over.
"The work never ends. I don't believe any existing councillor should promise anything before the next election because If they couldn't do anything while on Council what will change?"
Cr Shelley has served 15 years on Council.
Mayor Des Kennedy
In June, Cr Kennedy said he is undecided whether he will stand for re-election. We will update this story when he announces his decision.
He said his proven ability to build relationships with politicians, and experience getting funding for Council projects makes him an asset.
If Cr Kennedy runs and is re-elected, he said aside from "roads, rates and rubbish", he would be focusing on housing affordability.
"It's going to be a major problem moving forward, we need to address it and move fast on it. We're missing out on school teachers, we can't attract nurses because they can't afford anywhere to live," he said.
Cr Kennedy said he would also look to get Glen Willow Sports Stadium finished, including acquiring funding to fix the bridge and road exit to avoid traffic blocks. He also noted the acquisition of funding for the Aquatic Centre would also be a top priority.
He said Councillors should feel very proud of how the region has performed over the past 10 to 12 years.
"I regularly go to meetings with other Councillors and we are the envy of a lot of other councils, we've got growth, we've just got to manage it."
Cr Kennedy has served 13 years on Council.
Councillor Alex Karavas
In June, Cr Karavas said he plans to stand for re-election, and is driven by a desire to listen to residents of the region, particularly young people.
"I am also pleased that my election to Council at the age of 21 has given young people a voice in this important forum and the confidence to believe that they too can make a difference and achieve change if they set their mind to it."
Cr Karavas said if he is re-elected, his main priority would be to continue representing the youth of the region.
"I want to create more opportunities for youth and also to get as many people visiting and moving to our area as possible so that we can create more economic development and jobs in all sectors."
Cr Karavas said he is very happy with what has been achieved on Council in the current term, particularly the initiatives focused on youth.
"No individual can claim achievements as their own but I am glad that Council has supported so many great projects throughout the region. I am particularly pleased with Council's support for all the youth initiatives including the Youth Forum, Young Entrepreneurs Summit and the Youth Services Officer employed by Mid-Western Regional Council to assist youth with their concerns, ideas, employment and education."
He also said the additional leisure activities provided for young people has been a great Council achievement.
Cr Karavas has served on Council for five years.
Councillor Russell Holden
Cr Holden said he was undecided as to whether he would stand to be re-elected. When the Mudgee Guardian called Russell on October 15 he said he remained undecided, though it is understood he will not be running for reelection.
If Cr Holden runs and is re-elected, he said his main focus would be ensuring there is good fiscal management, as well as the best infrastructure and services for the whole community.
"I always want to achieve more, however I'm content with the things I have achieved."
Cr Holden has served on Council for nine years.