Tweed Shire is likely to get a new mayor on Thursday night, with speculation mounting that incumbent Barry Longland might not even re-contest the position due to lack of a seconder for his nomination.

Murwillumbah cafe owner Cr Gary Bagnall, a member of Mayor Longland’s dominant faction, is tipped to take the top job at Thursday night’s annual mayoral vote.

Cr Bagnall says after two years as a councillor, it’s time for him to take over, as four of the seven councillors pledged to share the mayoralty.

But in a swipe at his former supporters, Mayor Longland says the job should not be passed around like a play-thing.
Veteran conservative councillor Warren Polglase is also running, but is unlikely to secure enough votes, although stranger things have happened in politics.

With councillors’ suppport likely to be split 3-3 between Cr Bagnall and Cr Polglase, ironically Cr Longland’s vote will decide his successor.

Cr Bagnall says he has the votes of Deputy Mayor Michael Armstrong and Greens Cr Katie Milne, and is also hopeful of Mayor Longland’s support pushing him over the line.

Cr Armstrong has confirmed his support, while Cr Katie Milne did not comment.

Cr Polglase will be backed by fellow conservative councillors Phil Youngblutt and Carolyn Byrne, but he admits he’s an outside chance.

Cr Polglase said of his reasons for seeking the mayoralty: “I think we can do a lot better than what we’ve done in the past … I always like to make sure there’s a contest.”

Unlike most other Northern Rivers councils, Tweed’s mayor is not decided by popular vote but by the councillors in an annual poll.

Cr Bagnall says his four-strong faction agreed to share the mayoralty when it won a slim majority at the 2012 council election, and he’s ready to take the top job.

“Barry’s done quite a good job,” he said. “It’s time for someone else to take the reins. Agreement to share leadership roles is such a healthy concept. I hope Cr Longland supports me as I nominate for the position.”

There’s been speculation among council insiders that Cr Bagnall’s tilt at the top job may also have to do with ongoing tensions since the pair’s arguments over the selection of a new general manager in late 2013.
But Cr Bagnall said: “I don’t think there’s hostility (with Cr Longland). “We have a good working relationship.”

Tweed Mayor Barry Longland dodged questions about whether he would be standing again for mayor and, if so, who would be seconding his nomination. He also kept mum on who he would be backing if he was not standing.
But he did say… “I am an independent councillor who has never been associated with party politics, with a commitment to what is in the best interests of the community. I have worked very hard to achieve that over the past three years as the mayor.

“The position of the mayor is not a plaything to be passed around. I will continue to engage with my colleagues over the coming days about what is best for the year ahead and to provide confidence to our residents and staff that council will continue to move ‘together forward’ as our motto states.”

Source: Tweed Daily News

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