Voters will cast their ballots on March 28.
Voters will cast their ballots on March 28.

ELECTION: Council hopefuls answer reader queries

TODAY your 17 Southern Downs Regional Council candidates answer reader questions.

Each candidate, mayoral and councillors, were asked to provide a response to questions about council voting and water security.

The election will be held on Saturday, March 28.

All candidates have been listed in alphabetical order.

Mayoral candidates

Tracy Dobie

As a councillor will you vote based on the will and wishes of the people or your own?

I believe in broad consultation with as many people as possible, seeking to understand what our residents want.

My vote reflects what I have heard from our whole community.

What further action will you take to ensure water security for the region going forward?

The council's role is to ensure delivery of urban water and advocate for agricultural water such as Emu Swamp Dam.

I aim to increase urban water storages by getting the Storm King Dam wall raised, and seeking an additional water allocation for Leslie Dam.

We need to bring water from other catchments for contingencies, with the pipeline from Toowoomba to Warwick extended to Stanthorpe. This has to be achieved without being a financial burden to our residents.

 

Tracy Dobie.
Tracy Dobie.

 

Joe Doepel

As a councillor will you vote based on the will and wishes of the people or your own?

If I am elected as mayor for the Southern Downs, I will be voting as to the wishes of the majority of rate payers, being their voice and acting on their behalf.

What further action will you take to ensure water security for the region going forward?

I would liaise with local residents who know the lay of the land, as it's their future and livelihood that the council is dealing with.

If you have growth rate of 11%-13% per year in Queensland, you will need a new dam and power station every five years to support the growth.

As they push farming further and further west from the Great Divide, we are going to have to build dams or a multi-weir system. The flood waters will go over the top but retain enough water along the river to support our towns and farmers.

 

Joe Doepel.
Joe Doepel.

 

Vic Pennisi

As a councillor will you vote based on the will and wishes of the people or your own?

If you believe in democracy, and if you believe in putting people first like I do, you will actively seek out their opinion, understand their needs, listen carefully and represent that view when making all decisions. I will listen because you matter, if it's important to you, it's important to me.

What further action will you take to ensure water security for the region going forward?

All of SE Queensland comes under water stress frequently. Relying on other people's water when they too are in stress, is not a long term sustainable solution.

Stanthorpe relying on Warwick's waters and bringing us all down to 80L per person, per day is a local version of this wider problem. The only solution is to create new water supplies.

I'll support any infrastructure that delivers affordable and sustainable water.

 

 

Vic Pennisi.
Vic Pennisi.

 

Councillor candidates

 

Paola Cabezas-Bono

As a councillor, will your vote be based on the will and wishes of the people or your own?

The wishes of the people is my concern and by consultation I can hear all the voices and then I can really expend the time needed to make the decision for the best outcome for the people.

What further action will you take to ensure water security for the region going forward?

First, I would like to know where we are at with all the projects and the case studies? We need to know the cost, the contribution from state and federal government to each project and time frames. Then we would have to make the budget work with it, to not increase rates or other charges and no increase of debt: 1) pipeline from Connolly Dam to Storm King Dam; 2) bores in Warwick connected; 3) new higher wall in Storm King Dam. Every resident in the region needs access to potable water, regardless of where they live.

 

 

Paola Cabezas Bono.
Paola Cabezas Bono.

 

Andrew Gale

As a councillor, will you vote based on the will and wishes of the people or your own?

I think it is only right, that if the community gives me the honour of representing them, then I should always take the wishes of the community into account when making decisions.

I will consult. My voting will reflect the wishes of the community as much as reasonably possible. If I don't, for some reason, I will always be happy to explain myself.

What further action will you take to ensure water security for the region going forward?

We need more diversity in our water supply. Emu Swamp Dam is a must. We also have existing reliable underground water supplies in many parts of our region. These need to be equipped and available when required. Removal of any water infrastructure is a backwards step and should never happen again.

 

Andrew Gale.
Andrew Gale.

 

Cameron Gow

As a councillor, will you vote based on the will and wishes of the people or your own?

I have and will always listen so as to better represent the wishes of the community of Southern Downs and the Granite Belt.

Community groups I'm involved in require just such an approach.

Listening to people and representing their needs is the most important part of engaging with the community.

What further action will you take to ensure water security for the region going forward?

The future of water security in our region is critical and there is no silver bullet.

I have always said and will continue to lobby for a multiple suite of solutions. This drought is so big that even Emu Swamp Dam is not enough by itself.

Whatever extra water we can get into our region, the better.

 

 

Cameron Gow.
Cameron Gow.

 

Amanda Harrold

As a councillor will you vote based on the will and wishes of the people or your own?

I have served on a number of community groups and know that the role of the executive committee is to carry out the wishes of the members.

I have been doing this successfully for the last 8 years and I have proven that I am able to listen to the community and work on their behalf.

What further action will you take to ensure water security for the region going forward?

Whether I am elected or not, I will continue to support new water sources for the Southern Downs.

As a member of the Chamber Emu Swamp Dam subcommittee, I understand what is involved in securing additional water for our region.

Our committee has driven this project from the feasibility stage to securing funding and I will use this knowledge to further other water security projects.

 

Amanda Harrold.
Amanda Harrold.

 

Michael Jensen

As a councillor will you vote based on the will and wishes of the people or your own?

If elected by the community, I will do my best to represent their views.

When I vote, I will be voting according to what is in the best interest of the community I represent. Prior to any major decision being made, genuine engagement and consultation with the community needs to occur.

What further action will you take to ensure water security for the region going forward?

I will support greater consultation with all levels of government to ensure that the SDRC region is better equipped to deal with droughts like we have experienced recently.

Seeking "new" water solutions is paramount. Any 'new' water solution should be considered, as long as it is financially viable, without burdening rate payers any further. I will not support new water levies on rate payers if elected.

 

Michael Jensen.
Michael Jensen.

 

Rod Kelly

As a councillor will you vote based on the will and wishes of the people or your own?

As a Councillor I must ensure that the community's overall interests are considered to avoid any perceptions that decisions I make are in my interests.

Hence the importance of councillors declaring a conflict of interest. Public consultation, attending community events, Advisory Committees and being involved with numerous organisations has been an important aspect to keep me informed and updated.

What further action will you take to ensure water security for the region going forward?

When the Region's drought declaration was unexpectedly removed in May 2017 this council set to work on water contingency planning which developed from short to medium to long term. Even after this debilitating drought has broken, council will continue with its long term plans of drought proofing the region.

 

Rod Kelly.
Rod Kelly.

 

Peter Kemp

As a councillor will you vote based on the will and wishes of the people or your own?

Transparency has been a major issue with the current council, and never before have we had this secretive agenda. It has left the community dismayed and disappointed. A councillor is elected to represent the constituents and has no right to vote on a personal agenda that contradicts the communities wishes.

What further action will you take to ensure water security for the region going forward?

Myself as President of the RANGE Action Group instigated a letter through our MLA Mr James Lister to request the Labor government to provide funds to drill aquifers, and install infrastructure ready for the coming drought. This was two years ago.

Trucking water from Connolly Dam is expensive and quality is questionable. Emu Swamp Dam needs to be fast tracked. The importance for the region cannot be underestimated.

 

Peter Kemp.
Peter Kemp.

 

Cynthia McDonald

As a councillor will you vote based on the will and wishes of the people or your own?

As a councillor your job is to represent your constituents.

You work for the best outcome in the community. I will engage widely with the community and seek to vote in a manner that provides an optimal outcome for the majority of the people.

What further action will you take to ensure water security for the region going forward?

Water security is a massive concern to our community. It needs to be considered in a current, medium and long term context.

An overarching strategic plan needs to be developed for our entire region to ensure we never find ourselves in this situation again.

Our community, businesses and rural sector should be confident in our prospects for future infrastructure and growth to allow an optimistic outlook for our region.

 

 

Cynthia McDonald
Cynthia McDonald

 

Jo McNally

As a councillor will you vote based on the will and wishes of the people or your own?

When making decisions I always read the reports presented, undertake my own research and carefully consider any submissions from residents taking note of their concerns but ultimately I have been elected by the people to make a decisions for the whole of the region and that is what I have done and will continue to do.

What further action will you take to ensure water security for the region going forward?

Council has been working on a number of water security options in the short, medium and long term, which is listed on the website and I encourage residents to read the report.

Water security for our region is multi-layered, it isn't just one project it is many projects which will all contribute to building a stronger local economy. The process has started but there is still a lot more to be done.

 

Jo McNally.
Jo McNally.

 

Marika McNichol

As a councillor will you vote based on the will and wishes of the people or your own?

I am elected to serve and represent the interests of the whole community in the local government area and make choices and decisions to move the area forward in the best possible way.

The will of the people can be different according to who you talk too. I listen and take on board what people say, the decision may also involve what is the best outcome for strategic planning and budget decisions.

What further action will you take to ensure water security for the region going forward?

I will continue to advocate for water supply solutions by: raising the Storm King Dam wall, working with councillors in the Tenterfield Shire and the NSW and QLD Governments on a business case to bring water into our region. and implementing some of the recommendations in the NSW Water Resources Commission 1981 Rankine and Hill report.

 

 

Marika McNichol
Marika McNichol

 

Glyn Rees

As a councillor will you vote based on the will and wishes of the people or your own?

When voting, representing the interests of those in our region, knowledge and consideration of resident's concerns, opinions and needs is essential. I would always be conscious of considering the views of my community in conjunction with the relevant legislation and regulations and then vote according to what I feel best represents community wishes.

What further action will you take to ensure water security for the region going forward?

Investigations and action to ensure the water supplies, dams etc that currently exist are maintained and enhanced so as to always provide or improve on their capacity to service the region.

The construction of Emu Swamp Dam, an investigation of advancing the capacity of Storm King Dam and the desilting of existing dams when appropriate are all priorities in my mind.

 

 

Glyn Rees.
Glyn Rees.

 

Yve Stocks

As a councillor will you vote based on the will and wishes of the people or your own?

There are many factors to take into account when a decision has to be made.

If it is a planning matter, it must meet the criteria in the town plan.

The decision has to be in the best interests of the ratepayers and residents.

What further action will you take to ensure water security for the region going forward?

The council has already put plans in place to help secure our water.

The pipeline from Toowoomba is just one of them, and that will connect us to the SEQ water grid. We have no guarantee what that water will cost us.

Council is also looking at borefields, and the possibility of water coming from NSW.

I would like to see water restrictions continue, depending on how much water we have in our dams.

We have to conserve what we have and not waste it.

 

Yve Stocks.
Yve Stocks.

 

Stephen Tancred

As a councillor will you vote based on the will and wishes of the people or your own?

Both are important. If elected I will be bring my knowledge, skills, experience and community knowledge and desire to serve to the table for every decision.

No important decisions should be made without a thorough understanding of community wishes.

What further action will you take to ensure water security for the region going forward?

Previous Stanthorpe councils and the councils of Mayors Ron Bellingham and Peter Blundell worked for 20 years to make Emu Swamp Dam a reality. We are almost there.

Unfortunately this council walked away from the dam as an urban water source. I will try and find a way for Stanthorpe to source urban water from Emu Swamp. I will evaluate all other pipelines and dams with an open mind, and an eye on the costs and feasibility.

 

Stephen Tancred.
Stephen Tancred.

 

Sheryl Windle

As a councillor will you vote based on the will and wishes of the people or your own?

It is often difficult to reach a desired outcome, based on community expectations, and it takes courage to differentiate between that, and what is actually achievable.

I ensure that I have researched all of the available information, in order to make an informed decision, taking into account, community feedback, council officer's recommendations, financial implications, good governance, risk management, strategic direction, and, my obligations under the Local Government Act 2009.

What further action will you take to ensure water security for the region going forward?

Long term water security is my number one priority.

I will continue to support, the measures that are in place, and/or, being considered, by this current council.

 

Sheryl Windle.
Sheryl Windle.
Stanthorpe Border Post


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