Jess Jennings announces plan to run for Bathurst Regional Council | Poll

HE'S BACK: Jess Jennings will head an independent ticket of five candidates at the Bathurst Regional Council election in September.
HE'S BACK: Jess Jennings will head an independent ticket of five candidates at the Bathurst Regional Council election in September.

JESS Jennings has confirmed he seek re-election to Bathurst Regional Council in September – and he has his eye on the mayoral chains.

Dr Jennings was elected to council in 2012 but resigned his position 12 months ago to contest the 2016 federal election as the Labor candidate for Calare.

He has previously said he was undecided about contesting this year’s election as he juggled work commitments and a young family but has now confirmed he will run an independent ticket of five candidates on the ballot paper in September.

One of his key policy positions will be supporting a referendum to ask the people of Bathurst if they want to directly elect their mayor at future elections.

Councillor Bobby Bourke has long pushed for a referendum – as recently as last month – but has consistently failed to win support within the council chamber.

But the prospect of a number of new faces in the chamber after September could finally change the numbers on this issue.

“I am calling for an end to the lottery of smoke and mirrors that currently decides the mayoral position,” Dr Jennings said.

“It’s time to give that power to the people of Bathurst, where it belongs.

“After the disgraceful waste of the failed forced amalgamations disaster that we’ve only just survived, it’s time to make our local democracy stronger by giving the power to the people to decide our mayor - just like we do for prime minister and premier. 

“If elected as a councillor, I will issue a Notice of Motion to the new council within 12 months that proposes a local referendum to change our current system in time for the next local government election in September 2020.

“And if I became mayor under the current system, I will put the motion as Mayoral Minute within the first 12 months to give the people the voice any decent democracy deserves, especially at the community level.”

Dr Jennings said his team would also campaign on he issues of tourism and increased visitation; second circuit and Velocity Park; parks and gardens and a revamped master plan; economic development and managing population growth; water security and supporting agriculture; heritage protection and promotion.

Bathurst residents will go to the polls on Saturday, September 9.