Councillor bios

If you have questions, please drop these into the Old Hume Cafe beforehand for the Gunning event and details for Crookwell will be announced shortly.

If you have questions, please drop these into the Old Hume Cafe beforehand for the Gunning event and details for Crookwell will be announced shortly.

TWELVE candidates have nominated to fill the nine councillor positions on offer in the Upper Lachlan Shire of whom six are sitting members –  Councillors; Malcolm Barlow (Crookwell), Paul Culhane (Lost River), Brian McCormack (Laggan), Darren O’Brien (Crookwell), John Searl (Dalton) and James Wheelwright (Limerick).  New candidates are Ron Cummins (Crookwell), Sue Ellis (Lerida), Pam Kensit (Narrawa), Mike Mayoh (Bigga), Ric Opie (Crookwell) and John Stafford (Taralga).  There is an opportunity to find out what these prospective candidates have to offer on August 30 at the Services Club in Crookwell and at The Old Hume Cafe in Gunning on Wednesday August 31 from 6pm.  

Darren O’Brien

Four years ago, I was elected to the Upper Lachlan Shire Council because the people of Crookwell and surrounds believed I had the right attributes needed to represent their community on issues important to them and to me. I believe that I can continue to represent them in the forthcoming local government election. Born and bred in the town 53 years ago, I am raising a family of two teenagers with my wife Rie and know first hand the issues facing young people growing up in a rural community. Education, jobs and a changing environment are just some of those issues that face, not just my children, but all young people in Shire. My strongest assets I believe, are my local knowledge and my approachability, I am both a good listener and a good communicator. While I don’t always know the answers, I know how to ask and who to ask. Over my four years as Councillor of the Upper Lachlan Shire Council, I have maintained excellent working relationships with both councillors and council staff. As a team we were able to hold off the State Government’s recent attempts to force councils amalgamations. I will continue to work hard to keep it that way. Our Council has a strong financial base, which if it continues to be managed properly, will keep us “fit for the future”. I am also n active participant in our community, especially in the sportingfield. While the best of my playing days are well and truly over, I follow all local sport. Every couple of years sees me ‘acting up’ on stage of Crookwell Memorial Hall in Crookwell Amature Dramatic Society’s popular music halls. The Upper Lachlan Shire offers a great rural lifestyle, but community is the key. I am a people person who believes in a strong, committed, involved community.

James Wheelwright

I would not have believed when I was first elected to Council that in the following 17 years council would clean up its financial mess and go from having one asphalt entrance road to four with a fifth (Tuena) due for completion by Christmas 2017. In my nine years as Deputy Mayor I would not have thought it possible that Tens of Millions of Dollars of improvements could take place. Spread across the shire from Taralga Sewage works to Gunning and Dalton water with improved Crookwell water coming soon. All villages have benefited in one way or another. Other candidates will I’m sure be speaking of our achievements. We have negotiated a friendly amalgamation and made it work well, and fought off a hostile attempt mainly due to the competent staff, our sound finances and determined Councillors. A season of extremes has taken a heavy toll on our road network and it will take significant work to bring it back. Twelve months ago I was proud that the roads were progressing well and it is devastating that we have to play catch up again. A lot of the job as a councillor is prioritizing where our limited budget is spent and I believe we have done this well without bias to any area. Councillors had to work as a team to achieve this result. There is no doubt that success brings success and our ability to progress this shire has been the envy of many other shires in surrounding areas. I believe that we have to look at every development without prejudice and to keep an open mind is critical. When “State Significant” developments are approved by the State Government we have to get the most benefit we can for effected areas. Our communities have progressed a lot with the many shows, festivities and market places many of which have been started by seed money from Council, these need to continue to be supported to show case our local areas. The library and medical centre have been great successes. We have to revisit our local environment plan which is the overriding set of rules for the development of our Shire. There is much work to be done and I would like to be part of the new team. I believe the new Councillors are joining at the best time in our history and with the exception of playing catch up on our gravel roads should be able to achieve great things.. I would like to take this opportunity to wish John Shaw a more relaxing life now with his family. He has worked tirelessly for the Shire and deserves everyone’s gratitude. I have enjoyed working with the outgoing councillors Scotty Craig and Jo Marshall and wish them well for the future. I would also like to wish all other candidates good luck and thank the Gazette for allowing me space in your paper.

John Searl

I was born, grew up and studied in the UK. After graduating with a BA Hons in Psychology I migrated to Australia in 1979 having been recruited to take up a position as a psychologist in Tasmania. The majority of my working life has been in human services, education and management in public service organisations. While I am interested in politics I am not aligned to any political party or have ever been a member. I therefore stand as an independent candidate. On completing one term in local government with Upper Lachlan Shire Council I consider that I have worked hard to meet the main two criteria of being a Councillor, that is in providing leadership to Council and in representing the concerns and interests of the residents across the local government area. Being an elected representative is a role I have taken seriously and I have endeavoured to be both accessible and available to residents and keep them informed about Council business. Should I be elected for a further term at the September 10 election I intend to continue the high level of involvement I have had in the leadership of Council and representation of resident's concerns.  I shall also strive to improve the customer focus of Council, and sharpen the focus on economic development and sustainability of Upper Lachlan Shire into the future.  The promotion of Upper Lachlan Shire as a tourist destination will also require some creative thinking if it is to provide economic benefits to all the towns and villages. Last but not least the quality of and safety of users of the road network will remain a priority concern.

John Stafford

Council needs to look closely at every opportunity for economic development. In saying that, I would stress I do not believe in economic development at any cost. We all live in this region for the obvious attributes, not the least of which is the unique rural atmosphere of our villages. Nonetheless, the Shire as a whole needs to grow and develop.  No matter how comfortable we may seem with the status quo, a stagnant community without aspirations will not prosper. If not for ourselves, then for our children and their children do we need to look to the future. Too often we see young  people leave the area, simply because there is currently not enough opportunity for employment.  The opportunity is now there for new faces to bring a fresh look, vitality and enthusiasm to council. Roads and the maintenance of our roads are a high concern for the majority of local residents. The on-going task with which Council is confronted is no doubt challenging. The Shire ratepayer population is relatively small. The Council survey of 2015 showed that the overwhelming majority of ratepayers did not want to see a levy introduced to support works in this area. We must look to further opportunity to service our needs. A concerted drive by Council to attract new residents to the Shire is a clear and obvious opportunity for growth. I believe that the Shire has enormous potential to further develop in every regard. One particular area of opportunity is tourism.  Realising our tourism potential will lead to increased dollars spent with our retailers, employment for locals and exposure to the broader merits of our communities and our lifestyle. I am sure that there would not be too many local residents who do not know someone who has bought in this area as a result of a visit and were ‘smitten’. I have nominated for Council because I am passionate about this Shire and seeing it continue to prosper. Further economic development will not destroy the villages, our rural atmosphere or our heritage buildings. It will only enable the community to preserve what we have and increase the opportunity for current and future generations. A strong focus on economic development is not only helpful in creating work opportunities for the young but in maintaining and developing services for the older members of our community. Like the rest of Australia, Upper Lachlan has an ageing population with 40% over 65 years old. We require services to ensure on-going local assistance. My wife Tracey and I purchased property in Taralga over ten years ago now. We are currently in the final stages of work that will see us open a Wildlife Park in Taralga. We have invested significantly in this area and clearly see the potential.I have been Chairperson of the Upper Lachlan Tourism committee for the last few years. I have the background and skillset to be a meaningful contributor to council. I have the enthusiasm and commitment to help drive change and opportunity while being mindful of the need to preserve the things that are near and dear to all Shire residents.

Ron Cummins

I have had a career in Local Government spanning 30 years with experiences in large city councils and smaller country councils.  I started as an Engineering Assistant in Road Design, Stormwater Design and advanced to a senior position in Development Assessment.  I returned to University and gained a Masters Degree in Local Government Management.  For the last 12 years of my career I was the Manager of a large Development Assessment Team and a  Designated Person of Council under S441LGA 1993.  This senior position required me to attend council meetings to provide expert advice to Councillors where required.  I have been a property owner within our shire since 2000 and a resident of Crookwell since 2008.  Using my skills and experience, I was the advocate of the campaign ‘Local TV for Locals’ which culminated in a new TV service for the township of Crookwell and surrounds. If elected, I will continue to advocate for change in Council to ensure the positive direction and prosperity of Crookwell and surrounding villages by:- working to provide incentives such as waiving S94 Contributions, to allow for small business operators to start up new projects and create local jobs working to ensure that the submission of Development Applications is a more positive experience so builders and developers are attracted back to our Shire to undertake works which will create further local employment working to ensure Council makes better use of both Federal and State Funding and reduces its current savings levels by spending more on the maintenance and upgrading of the Shire’s rural road network advocate for the provision of facilities in Crookwell and surrounding villages and also the upgrade of the main street of Crookwell to entice the travelling public to stop, take notice and shop working to establish currently non-existing infrastructure services such as a Green Bin Waste Service to all urban areas of the Shire, the maintenance of damaged footpaths and kerb and gutter to reduce Council’s liability and work to commission a skateboard park in Crookwell and install playground equipment across the Shire working to qualify Crookwell as a registered “RV Friendly Town” and the outer villages as “RV Friendly Destinations” by providing easy to use and easy to find facilities to attract the travelling public. We need to plan for the future by scheduling Council meetings to be held in the evening to encourage residents and to give business owners and people who work fulltime the opportunity to attend these meetings.  This will also broaden the opportunities, especially for the younger business owners, to nominate as councillors at the next election.