Our say | Now the wheeling and dealing really begins

NO doubt, the three newcomers elected to Bathurst Regional Council following last Saturday’s poll are looking forward to getting straight down to serious business.

They might be careful what they wish for.

Any wheeling and dealing that went on during the long campaign for the local government election will pale against the negotiation for mayor and deputy mayor that are moving into full swing.

The Western Advocate understands councillors were canvassing votes even before the nine councillors were finalised and it will only get more intense now.

It appears there are four councillors with an eye on the mayoral chains – incumbent Graeme Hanger, former mayor Monica Morse, former deputy Ian North and former Labor candidate for Calare Jess Jennings.

They are all experienced councillors and all long-time (or lifetime) Bathurst residents.

And they are all likely to keep their council colleagues on fast dial over the next five days.

Of the newcomers, The Greens’ John Fry could reasonably be expected to align with Mr Jennings but the votes of Jacqui Rudge and Alex Christian seem less clear-cut.

Both played their cards close to their chests when speaking with the Western Advocate on Thursday, and that’s fair enough given they had been elected as councillors less than an hour earlier.

Ms Rudge was elected on the strength of Bobby Bourke’s preferences so you would expect them to vote in synch for the first meeting, at least, but Ms Rudge maintains she will make up her own mind.

Mr Christian could prove to be the deciding vote at his very first meeting and it will be interesting to see which way he goes.

His is the phone likely to be ringing most as all the mayoral candidates would hold out some hope of securing his vote.

Despite his thumping election result, Mr Christian remains largely unknown among the Bathurst public outside of the fact he is a serving police officer and a member of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.

He wants a roundabout at West Bathurst and CCTV in the CBD.

The mayoral candidate that can promise those two things might win his vote – and the mayoral chains.

The last few weeks have certainly been a tough slog for council candidates and it’s not quite over yet.

The rest of us can settle in for a few more surprises to come.

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