Meet the candidates: Forbes Shire votes this Saturday

Meet the candidates: Forbes Shire votes this Saturday

Forbes Business Chamber's Meet the Candidates night had to be rearranged after flooding disrupted earlier plans, but dozens of community members stepped up to hear from those who could attend at the Forbes Golf and Sportsman's Hotel last Thursday night.

Ten of our 13 candidates were able to attend: Marg Duggan, Jeff Nicholson, Tom Dwyer, Chris Roylance, Phyllis Miller, Brian Mattiske, Graeme Miller, Maria Willis, Emma Henderson and Jenny Webb.

Michele Herbert had a representative read a presentation on her behalf, Steve Karaitiana and Aidan Clarke sent their apologies.

Marg Duggan, Forbes Business Chamber president and owner of Undercover Sleepwear and Lingerie, spoke about the ongoing need to continue drawing visitors to Forbes.

The beautification of our CBD - expanding that to Lachlan and Rankin streets - and maintaining Lake Forbes as a destination are all important to that. The Homemakers Centre is another drawcard that also brings people to her Rankin Street store.

Marg is focussed on partnerships that promote Forbes and increase visitation, growing our accommodation, hospitality, retail and tourism sectors.

Jeff Nicholson, a current councillor and local businessman involved in junior sports, spoke about the innovations that had resulted from community members having input on council committees.

In his time as chair of the Economic and Business committee, some of the issues that were raised included the need for residential land and the need to "green" the CBD to cool it down and make it a more pleasant place to be.

He emphasised his focus on council being strong, accountable and consistent in its policy and decision making.

Tom Dwyer, who is about to celebrate 50 years at Court Press, called for more insight and earlier consultation on decisions of council.

Mr Dwyer has served on many community organisations - from the Learning Ladder to Rotary - and has been a Forbes Shire councillor before.

"We need to know more what is going on, before it happens, not after. We are told very little and expected to accept that," he said.

Tom is passionate about developing a culture which develops innovation and delivering services and products which meet the expectations of citizens today and into the future.

Chris Roylance, CEO of Roylances, said he was eager to continue the good work done by the council that has served the past five years.

Continued population growth, with the help of Goldridge Estate, would see more services including teachers, nurses, police, he said.

Growth in the business community and continuing service to the community are vital, Cr Roylance said, he's also focussed on sporting field upgrades, development at the aerodrome and maintaining and growing medical services.

Phyllis Miller has been a councillor for 26 years and mayor for nine.

She spoke of her choice to make Forbes her forever home, and her background in stock and station agency, dryland and irrigation farming.

Mayor Miller outlined council's strong financial position, and spoke about the investments council has made - including the saleyards and property - to generate revenue into the future.

There's more to do, she added, Goldridge Estate has the ability to increase our population and with population increases come services such as health and hospital which council and community have fought hard for.

Brian Mattiske's family has been farming in this area for generations and he's served a term on our council as well as on the Australian Livestock Marketing Association and river advisory committees.

As an irrigator, he's focussed on on water issues including the raising of the Wyangala Dam wall and management.

As a farmer, he's seeking to see roads opened up to access by B double and other truck configurations to better keep pace with the trucking industry.

He's also looking to improve the permit system for wide loads, so farmers aren't waiting so long for critical access.

Graeme Miller has been a councillor for just under 14 years, serving five as deputy mayor and two as mayor. He's the chair of the Central West Livestock Exchange and Parkes / Forbes community housing.

His priorities included the Lake Forbes activation plan, as well as the dredging and potentially the extension of the ski dam to make it safer and a potential venue for barefoot ski titles.

He welcomed the work under way at Spooner Oval and Hughie Wilson, and highlighted the potential for an undercover equine centre.

Cr Miller was involved in the former Jemalong Aged People's Association and named the development of further independent living units at JRV as another priority focus.

Michele Herbert asked Monica Wren to read on her behalf. Michele spoke of her work as a councillor over the past five years.

"As a council we have achieved a great amount during our time but one project I am proud of is the QR project bringing our history alive for tourism and our community," she said.

Cr Hebert said she had been part of a wonderful team including the heritage committee, council staff and community members passionate about bringing Forbes' past into our future.

Goldridge Estate, Lachlan Vintage Village tourism information centre, Lake Activation Plan, solar lights around the lake and industrial park were just a few of the highlights of her term.

Maria Willia said her focus is on making Forbes "future fit" with the services needed for our population.

"Forbes is visually a beautiful town, but what is the current state of affairs now and into the future when seeking medical, hospital, aged and child care and affordable housing?" she asked.

"Vote 1 Willis to provide me the mandate to place our current and projected community needs as priorities to ensure our council, current and growing population, have appropriate services and are future-fit."

She highlighted aged care, youth, training and employment opportunities, counselling services, and private and public service providers working collaboratively and transparently as priorities.

Emma Henderson said she loved growing up in Forbes, and moved home to give her daughter the same wonderful experience she had.

Since returning to Forbes she has started the Forbes Community Facebook page and Forbes mums group, to connect and give others a place to connect.

"I believe a diverse council is a strong council," Emma said, adding she believed in greater transparency and consultation as well.

"I am passionate, driven, energetic and dedicated to being the voice for the people of the Forbes community and young families in town."

Jenny Webb said her priorities when first elected to council included health services and the condition of rural roads.

Working in health, farming country that is currently isolated by flooding, she has and will continue to campaign for services and improvements in those fields.

But she also learned quickly that residents also wanted matters like the state of public toilets, queues at the pool entrance, and potholes to be addressed. She has served on numerous committees and as deputy mayor during the past five years.

You can read more about Aidan Clarke and Steve Karatiana in our earlier stories.

Aidan Clarke, who grew up in Forbes and is now assistant director at Forbes Learning Ladder, seeks tobe a voice for young people and families, speaking up for what younger members of the community need to stay in Forbes or return with their families.

Steve Karaitiana has been delighted to see the improvement in community spaces such as Jenny Murphy Park and the Ninja Park in the past five years, but he's also keen to continue to see more major employers move to Forbes.