Costs, transparency issues dog mayor’s campaign
ACHIEVEMENTS of the organisation led by Mayor Mark Jamieson as well as a lack of transparency perceived by sections of the community were key topics as challengers for his job made their cases on Wednesday night.
Cr Jamieson outlined at the Sunshine Coast Daily's You Decide forum at Maroochydore RSL a record of eight years of achievement across the economy, the environment and community engagement.
He said confidence had strengthened during that time and household incomes increased with the council also in a financially very strong position.
But the mayor's quest for a third term continues to be dogged by questions about the council's financial position and just how much ratepayers' money was spent defending its Yaroomba Beach development approval.
Cr Jamieson said he didn't know the figure for the Sekisui House case, saying that was something he may find out and release if re-elected and if the new council agreed.
Former deputy mayor Chris Thompson's clear campaign strategy appeared to be to avoid direct confrontation and instead stick to the promise to deliver a values-based council while fellow candidates Don Innes and Michael Burgess were on the attack.
Cr Jamieson's claim unemployment had gone down during his administration was questioned by Mr Burgess whose contention it had instead gone up from 5.96 per cent to 6.3 per cent was left unrebutted.
Mr Thompson said he would address deep community concerns lifestyle was being lost due to a development at all costs culture not backed by supporting infrastructure.
He promised a values-based council built on trust, transparency and openness, an end to secret meetings, fewer confidential sessions and to lobby for the Mooloolah River interchange and heavy gauge rail and that strong support would be given to rebuild Nambour's economic strength.
Mr Burgess said if the current regime was returned, debt would increase from $400 million to $600 million within six months as projects including the new council chambers were factored in.
He offered the experience of a solid business background and an economy built on the lifestyle the community wanted to protect.
Mr Innes, who is running an election sign-free, social media-based campaign, has promised a policy statement for each of the last 10 days before the election on March 28.
He would sponsor an overarching small business peak body to address shop vacancies saying Nambour and Caloundra needed the expertise Cr Jamieson lacked.