Clarence Valley Council building in Grafton.
Clarence Valley Council building in Grafton. Caitlan Charles

BEHIND THE VOTE: Who should vote for mayor

CAITLAN CHARLES: How well do you really know them?

AT THE ripe old age of 24, I voted in my first council election here in the Clarence Valley. I can remember looking at the names on the list, a few I knew, others I didn't.

Even I, a journalist at The Daily Examiner, was still stumped by who exactly was going to represent me. I can only imagine what it would have been like to vote in an even bigger electorate.

We can argue about the level of importance of local government later, but can anyone tell me they actually know their councillors better than their State of Federal members? I sit in the council chambers every week to report on the happenings of Clarence Valley Council and I would still say I know Chris Gulaptis and Kevin Hogan better.

It's not just me though, I can remember from the same period, people asking on Facebook why people were gathering at schools, if there was some sort of election on. I think there is a danger in putting too much power into the hands of people who don't know what they're doing.

But, these councillors, throughout the election process, spend a lot of time together. Way more than we will ever get to spend with them.

They may be making a choice based on personal gain, but there should, hopefully, be enough backbone in the group to pick the right person.

Because, at the end of the day, that is what councillors are there to do - represent the values and beliefs of the community.

TIM HOWARD: Direct election of mayor is no-brainer

CHANGING to a direct election for the mayor and deputy is a no-brainer for a Clarence Valley desperate to have a say in who gets the top job.

The concept of having the councillors vote one of their number in as mayor has worn thin in an electorate keen to take responsibility for electing the person they want to lead them.

In fact in most of the recent Clarence Valley Council elections the candidate with the most votes has gone on to be elected mayor.

Voters knowing they have not had had a say in putting their candidate in the job, is one of the reasons people have become disenchanted with local politics.

Once the Valley has the chance to elect its own leaders, there is every chance it will encourage people with a more entrepreneurial outlook to nominate for the role.

Direct election would encourage more dynamic people, who have specific goals to enter the race.

And they would have a greater mandate to get support for their agendas because they have the direct support of the people behind them.

Valley residents will have noted how changes in some of the non-elected personnel on the council have resulted in improvements in policy and decision-making.

Ensuring this occurs at the top of the elected officers will magnify this effect and speed up decision-making, areas which have held back the council in the past.