Race to the polls: Candidates have their last say before election

The eighteen candidates who will contest this Saturday's Hilltops Council election.
The eighteen candidates who will contest this Saturday's Hilltops Council election.

Prospective councillors had some uncomfortable moments at the Young Witness-Hilltops Council candidate Q&A held at the Town Hall on Wednesday night.

More than 200 people attended the forum and more than 2000 viewed it on Facebook.

Candidates were under no illusions as to what the pressing issues of Young residents were as members of the public sought answers to their concerns over the direction of the new council.

Questions were asked on a variety of topics including; health care, roads, development applications, bringing new business to the region, the education precinct and council transparency. 

Most of the 18 candidates running for election to the Hilltops Council on September 9 attended the event and gave detailed answers to the questions asked.

One of the problems identified during the Q&A session was how to address the individual needs of each town despite being a combined council. 

Speaking on Local Environmental Plans, former Boorowa Councillor Jack Ryan said there was a need for improvement for the Hilltops Council. 

“We’ve got a lot of different zonings…I’m very unsure we can make a blanket decision but obviously we’re going to have to work towards that way.”

What became clear during the night was that many of the prospective councillors are at polar opposites on some issues. 

Brian Ingram and Wendy Tuckerman both spoke passionately about providing a bulk bill doctors service for Young. They defended the decision to offer an unused council owned property for the surgery and a rent free period as part of the package to attract the new doctor’s to town.

But Rita O’Connor said medical services in the region are “crucial” and she felt new councillors should work hard to win back the trust of medical practitioners in Young who were offended by the decision.

Wes Leseberg said that “trust is a hard thing to get and an easy thing to lose” and said it would take “a long time and some hard work” to win back the trust of the current Young GPs.

Many who attended the forum told Witness staff they now had a clearer idea whom they would vote for.