Rotary’s Meet the Candidates Forum last week showed a passionate public with locals concerned about climate change, the arts and job opportunities for Yass’ youth.

12 of the 17 candidates standing in this December election spoke on issues they plan to address if elected to Council.

The first speaker of the night, Jim Abbey, who’s coincidentally also first on the ballot spoke about his past work with children at a childcare centre he owned and operated and in the public sector.

Jim said he’s always had the aspiration to stand for council and mentioned prominent issues such as water quality, heritage building maintenance, and Murrumbateman’s need for a playground.

Allan McGrath, who had served two terms previously with the Yass Valley Council and 21 years with Queanbeyan’s Council said he believes the purpose of the council is service to the community and things only happen when you make them happen.

A volunteer with Cooma Cottage and the Tidy Town Committee Allan said he wants a clean, green and prosperous community.

Saan Ecker, second on the Green’s ticket, has a varied background in psychology, ecology, RFS and rescuing wildlife.

“I’ve spent my life listening and will listen,” she said. “I guarantee I am here to make a difference.”

Current councillor, Jasmin Jones has two terms under her belt and said there was still so much she wanted to do for Yass Valley. She mentioned her achievement of a full-time midwife for pre and postnatal care and plans to pursue a local heated pool, reliable rural roads, clean town water and building maintenance.

“I love Yass Valley like you do,” she said. “Connecting with people is what I love to do.”

First on the Green’s ticket, Adrian Cameron said his group had no hidden agendas and due to being a part of a larger party they had established links to federal and state governments that independents may lack.

A member of the Yass Historic Group Adrian said he wants to see historic buildings maintained and improved upon.

At 30-years-old Ryan Deale is one of the younger candidates standing in this election.

A local business owner and family man, Ryan said he’s been approached many times about recreation options for local teens and suggested a BMX mountain bike track.

“I’m standing for the families, I’m standing or businesses, I’m standing for tourism, and I’m standing for bringing more support to the local economy,” Ryan said.

Murrumbateman resident Steve Crabb is standing with the Greens and as an ex-public servant, he said he has a reputation for getting things done.

After fighting in the 2019/2020 bushfires with NSW RFS, Steve is particularly concerned about climate change and says local councils can do more to help the cause than you think.

Gundaroo local Iain Fyfe is also on the Green’s ticket and said he’s standing because Yass Valley is his home and is facing challenges that need to be dealt with. Iain mentioned the increasing population and development and the need for road maintenance so Yass can remain connected and mobile.

Iain said we need to position ourselves for the ongoing effects of climate change and to tackle this we need the community to be in the driving seat.

Peter Crisp spoke as a proxy for Cayla Pothan as she was unable to be there on the night due to exams for an advanced leadership mentoring certification.

Cayla said she was standing because she believes she brings a strong track record of dedication and strength to the region through her business and community activities.

Previously a mental health practitioner and qualified horticulturalist she said her passion and commitment to the community is to ensure that public money is spent wisely.

Cayla said she’s passionate about family life, community inclusion, local business, roads and accessibility and through that creativity, sport and fitness.

A Rotarian since 1979 Kim Turner is currently finishing his second term with the Yass Valley Council. A part of the Rural Community for Agriculture group Kim also won the 2016 Senior Citizen of the Year Award.

Kim said it’s time for Yass to take its rightful place as an end destination not just somewhere to sleep. He wants a clean secure water supply, a vibrant Main Street with a fully restored Liberty Theatre and Soldiers Memorial Hall, a modern library, and good roads and infrastructure among others.

Owner of Yazzbar, Harvey Walsh has a background in urban regional planning and local government in Queensland and Port Macquarie. He said Yass Valley not only needs the Soldiers’ Memorial Hall to be upgraded, a heated pool and a playground in Murrumbateman but also urban design.

“I tend to work with the big picture,” Harvey said. “I’m interested in how the settlement strategy can be improved and in how we’re going to get 20,000 People living in Yass.

“We need a settlement strategy that looks after country ecologically, agriculturally, and sustainably.”

The last speaker of the night was Bob Buffington who was notably the first Indigenous SES Controller in NSW. A Yass Redbacks volunteer and learning support officer at Berinba school Bob said he’s standing for the kids.

Bob said Yass’ youth need more job opportunities and apprenticeships outside of the university path.

“If I ever get to Council I want to help the kids out, because they are our future.”

By Brianna O’Rourke

Photo: Iain Fyfe, Adrian Cameron, Harvey Walsh, Saan Ecker, Kim Turner, Jasmin Jones, Steve Crabb, Ryan Deale, Jim Abbey, Allan McGrath, Bob Buffington.