Bundaberg Regional Councillors discuss matters in the council chamber.
Bundaberg Regional Councillors discuss matters in the council chamber.

Councillors asked who they prefer as mayor

BUNDABERG councillors Jason Bartels and John Learmonth openly endorse Jack Dempsey as their favoured mayoral candidate.

"Council is already going to have a minimum of three new councillors around the table," Cr Bartels said. "Any further changes could cause major disruption and delay the advancement of the region."

Cr Learmonth said the district would benefit from the current council team's experience, but that it was up to voters to decide the outcome.

Cr Greg Barnes said his relationship with Mayor Jack Dempsey and Cr Helen Blackburn had been "strained" this term, but that he favoured neither.

Constituents were asking him which mayoral candidate they should vote for, and he reminded them of the possibility of more mayoral candidates.

"Any councillor shouldn't indicate that they are supporting a mayoral candidate because that just reeks to me of cronyism and party politics," Cr Barnes said.

Councillors were asked which mayoral candidate they supported, after Cr Cooper submitted a letter to the editor published in today's NewsMail praising Cr Dempsey.

In the letter, Cr Cooper said "Mayor Jack Dempsey has been an outstanding leader and he has my full continuing support."

But he also said he was referring to the current term, was an independent candidate, and that the mayor was determined by the community.

Outgoing councillor Scott Rowleson said he would not endorse candidates and that it could potentially create "perceived conflicts" early in the term.

Councillor Wayne Honor said in the previous election he was abused by candidates for not endorsing anyone. "You had to be diplomatic at the polling booths when you had candidates screaming at you, 'well, I know who I'm supporting, who are you going to support?'" Cr Honor said. "I support whoever the public elects."

Councillor Ross Sommerfeld said he could work hard under any mayor, and declaring allegiance before an election could cause problems.

"It can actually be a divisive situation. When councillors support someone, if they don't get in, what's that supposed to mean?" he said.

Councillor Blackburn said "it's disappointing the media feels the opinion of councillors get to be published. In the same way democratically, those 10 councillors and the mayor should make decisions based on the region, and not make decisions on who the next mayor would be."

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