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Residents throw hats into the ring

With three seats up for grabs at next month’s local government election, only a handful of residents have nominated.

Last-minute uncertainty around some of the names offered by close of business yesterday, after the Times’ deadline, meant it could be a close contest, with four contenders confirmed.

A definite candidate is former councillor and Nationals WA candidate Kylie Kennaugh, who lost her seat two years ago amid strong campaigning from new members since elected to the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River council.

Ms Kennaugh said she was returning to the fray because of community concerns about the council’s direction towards social justice and environmental fears, rather than core business.

Also throwing his hat in the ring is Burger Baby owner and former senior hospitality executive Richard Moroney.

A third guaranteed candidate is chalets operator Robert McDonald, best known as one of the leaders of the Registered Accommodation Providers Margaret River Region.

But Mr McDonald made clear he was not running on a RAPMRR ticket — though many under the pump from Airbnb-type operators might still give him their support.

Also joining the candidates is Paula Cristoffanini, known of late for her work to help establish a renewable energy project in Scott River under the banner Augusta-Margaret River Clean Community Energy.

Ms Cristoffanini told the Times she wanted to safeguard the region’s character. “We have an enviable natural environment,” she said.

“Diversity is our strength, and for a sustainable future we must balance the needs of our community: young and old, in the workforce or not, in business, in agriculture, in tourism, in sports and the arts.”

Ms Kennaugh said the election offered residents a “chance to reset”.

“It is an opportunity to restore practical and commonsense decision-making to council,” she said.

Recent council forays into non-core business were costing ratepayers, she believed.

“It is time council returned its focus to its core business and curbed its spending on whims and feel-good projects,” she said.

Mr Moroney said he would campaign on a platform of “balanced and sensible growth of our shire”.

“There needs to be more representation of the business community on our council,” he said.

“I have a history of strong community engagement through the fire brigade and this is the ongoing extension of that engagement.”

Mr McDonald told the Times he was also focused on supporting local business and the circular economy. “I aim to provide the Augusta and Margaret River communities a council member with balanced and inclusive decision processes who supports development and growth that benefits and strengthens our community, local businesses and towns,” he said.

“I believe council could benefit from more councillors with focus on ensuring the sustainability and growth of local businesses and would stand on that basis.”

Nominations closed yesterday at 4pm, after the Times’ deadline.

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