Esperance council election Rural Ward candidates address voters

Candidates Wes Graham, Natalie Bowman, Paul Griffiths and Ian Mickel and moderator Bronwyn McLeod. Photo: Jake Dietsch.
Candidates Wes Graham, Natalie Bowman, Paul Griffiths and Ian Mickel and moderator Bronwyn McLeod. Photo: Jake Dietsch.

Challenging senior managers at the shire, becoming the lowest waste-producing town per capita and knocking down the back wall of council chambers to let in sunlight were some of the ideas raised at the Rural Ward forum.

The forum was hosted by the Esperance Chamber of Commerce and Industry today, October 9.

Ian Mickel said he would improve financial management and ask questions of senior management.

Mr Mickel said he wanted to make things easier for business, improve the rural road network, tackle the local drug issue and proposed bringing back a partnership group of business leaders to examine community needs and lobby governments.

The candidate also said councillor communication needed to be improved.

"To hear that people have put three and four letters in [over local issues] and they've handed those letters to councillors and to hear they've had no response is very disappointing," he said.

Shire deputy president Natalie Bowman promised to continue taking a long-term approach.

Mrs Bowman supported live-streaming council meetings and developing focus groups to enhance communication.

The councillor said Esperance could become the lowest waste-producing shire per capita in WA.

Mrs Bowman said the jetty issue had been resolved and that she wanted to see more funding for rural roads.

Wes Graham focused on reducing rate-rises, cutting red-tape and making doing business easier in Esperance.

"I continue to hear of people having trouble getting things done. I just think we need a council that says 'how can we help you?', instead of 'how can we make things bloody hard?'."

Mr Graham said the shire needed to 'pull its belt in' and "stop spending and stop wasting money on insignificant things".

The candidate also criticised council's decision making in purchasing a tip, saying they had employed 'incompetent' people to assess the site and hadn't given enough consideration to the environment.

Paul Griffiths said council had a role in tackling climate change, increasing renewable energy and tackling mental health and youth suicide.

Mr Griffiths said the council chamber was daunting and proposed knocking down the back wall to let in sunlight.

"Open that whole thing up, bring some light into that place... The natural light brings out the best in us all," he said.

Mr Griffiths also suggested auditing shire departments to reduce rates and that council needed to have "empathy" on the impacts of these rises.