Three council spots open up as polls near

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
All three seats will be vacated at forthcoming elections.
Camera IconAll three seats will be vacated at forthcoming elections.

All three sitting councillors, including Shire president Pam Townsend, will vacate their seats at next month’s Shire of Augusta-Margaret River council elections.

Some of the councillors’ decisions came down to the wire, with reigning members still caught up in major projects ushered through chambers in recent weeks.

Vacating all three seats will offer a wide-open field to those seeking to replace them.

Cr Townshend told the Times she was satisfied with the council’s achievements during her time at the helm and listed the recruitment of new Shire chief Stephanie Addison-Brown, the three-bin system, and a stronger focus on climate change as highlights.

She would continue her work for the environment after life on council.

“I want to work more in fighting for climate-change mitigation, as climate scientists are warning that we have around 10 years to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions are trending down with sufficient rapidity to keep global warming at less than 2C,” she said.

“I feel that I can act with more independence as an ordinary citizen.”

But the council’s moves into green politics — taking place amid a Statewide backlash against some local governments declaring a “climate emergency” — was a minor sour note for 13-year council veteran and former Shire president Mike Smart, who would also retire next month.

“Despite being equally concerned about climate change and social welfare, I have been finding it difficult to encompass the push by the current council outside the boundaries of council’s traditional role,” he told the Times.

Cr Smart’s retirement was hedged on the prospect of fellow Augusta local Carolyn Tenardi stepping up for election — though on deadline, Ms Tenardi’s candi-dacy remained unconfirmed.

A strong advocate for the south of the shire, Cr Smart said he wanted Augusta and districts to remain in the next council’s focus.

He has made waves numerous times for his concerns Augusta came last in some Shire plans, and he said the region needed strong representation.

Green-minded councillor Peter Lane would also retire at the end of his four-year term.

He said he enjoyed his tenure, which he considered “most constructive”.

Cr Townshend also listed an increase in ratepayer-backed funding for the environment, improved community consultation for Shire policy-making, commitments to social justice, and formation of the Sustainable Economy Advisory Committee and recruitment of a full-time officer for that position.

“I have been proud to be part of a council with a majority of women, and note that more women are represented as Mayors and Shire presidents in WA now than ever before,” she said.

“I also pay tribute to my fellow councillors and the staff in the Shire.

“Most people don’t understand the dedication and commitment that we show each and every day.”

Cr Smart said projects he’d championed such as redevelopment of Turner Caravan Park into a highly-profitable business unit, and a pending scenic path to Leeuwin Lighthouse were also now well underway, allowing him to step back from his role.

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