Friday, April 26, 2024

Mayors do battle for Dubbo

In the battle of the former Dubbo mayors at the polls, Ben Shields has been defeated by 2016 Dubbo Mayor, Mathew Dickerson, early vote counting has shown.

Figures so far show that local business owner and former Mayor, Mr Dickerson, is likely to take Mr Shields’ Central Ward spot, along with his Labor candidate, Vicki Etheridge.

The news comes at the close of what has been a contentious election period for the rural city.

Dubbo Regional Council last week issued a statement distancing itself from SMS text messages sent by then-Mayor, Stephen Lawrence, prior to residents heading to the polls on Saturday.

“Dubbo Regional Council has been made aware of a series of election campaign email and SMS texts sent by Councillor Stephen Lawrence ahead of Saturday’s local government election,” the Council statement read.

“These messages are not from Dubbo Regional Council and have not been paid for, distributed or produced by Council.

“The election material in question is owned and authorised by Councillor Lawrence. This has been paid for by Councillor Lawrence to be distributed via public database through a third party provider and was not provided by Dubbo Regional Council.”

Council said no Council resources had been used in the distribution of the material by Mr Lawrence.

“Council has strictly abided by its legislative obligations during the election period,” it said.

It then suggested residents concerned about the messaging should contact the NSW Privacy Commissioner.

“If you have concerns that your privacy has been breached, you can contact the NSW Privacy Commissioner, submit a complaint at their wepbage How Do I Make a Complaint.”

Meanwhile, Mr Lawrence was active on his Facebook page over the weekend, first singing the praises of candidate, Vicki Etheridge, showing the pair enjoying a morning coffee (pictured) today.

This post was followed up a few hours later with a post (main photo) featuring Mr Dickerson and commending the community’s voting efforts.

“Thank you to all the candidates who stood up to better their community. You made yesterday’s result possible. We will have a diverse and strong council that befits our community,” he wrote.

Mr Dickerson recorded more than 54% of first preference votes while Mrs Etheridge secured 29%. Mr Shields was well behind both candidates, with just 16%.

It was an important day for Dubbo voters, with residents also asked to decide on the future of the region’s ward system.

The ward system was introduced back in 2016 when Dubbo and Wellington councils were amalgamated, with the municipality divided into five wards, with 10 councillors. Abolishing the system would see one single area formed, with 11 councillors elected.

Yesterday voters were asked: ‘Currently Dubbo Regional Council is divided into five wards that elect 10 councillors in total; do you favour abolishing this ward system in favour of a single area consisting of all voters that elects 11 councillors?’.

As of late this afternoon, 76.3% of voters had said ‘yes’ to disbanding the ward system, meaning it will not be in place at the next local government elections.

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