Wollondilly voters have some big decisions to make at the council elections on September 10.
Fifty-five candidates will compete for the nine positions on Wollondilly Council.
The Advertiser asked all 17 group leaders and the two ungrouped candidates why they were running and what they hoped to achieve.
Some answers have been edited for clarity and/or length:
Incumbent councillor Michael Banasik wants to protect the shire’s rural lifestyle.
“I’m committed to fixing our roads, providing more sporting facilities, more youth and aged facilities and reducing illegal dumping,” he said.
Former mayor Col Mitchell said he would run for re-election to ensure council remains ‘fit for the future’.
“I plan to restore Picton following the storm, retain rural land and agricultural industries and continue to plan for Wilton Junction township and a second public high school,” he said.
Former councillor Lynette Styles stands for proper decision making, community consultation and accountability and would reinstate public question time.
“I want two free trips to the tip a year, fairer distribution of funding across the shire and diligent maintenance of Stonequarry Creek,” Ms Styles said.
Business owner Kyle Chamberlain said poor control was tearing the shire apart and he wanted a council which would proactively represent residents.
“I will address the maintenance backlog and work to streamline processes,” he said. “I will encourage tourism operators, increase youth and arts options and support our farmers.”
Mowbray Park Farmstay manager Blair Briggs wants to continue serving the community.
“I have made this shire my home, I want to tend to that home,” he said. “You cannot manage what you cannot measure so I will listen, learn, ask and act.”
Business owner Robert Khan said he wanted to make a difference, be a voice and 'build our future together' with residents.
Mr Khan said transparency and management of the council were key issues. He wants to continue the storm clean up effort.
Country Labor Party candidate Elizabeth Sloane is frustrated with the Broughton Pass stalemate, dangerous roads, minimal public transport, the lack of sewerage connections, inadequate health services, expensive child care, rate increases and red tape.
Noel Lowry does not believe the current councillors have the ability to protect community interests when it comes to mining and developers.
“We need to preserve our rural heritage, support our farmers, increase volunteer funding, hold our council to account and reinstate the values of community pride and engagement,” he said.
Narelle Lucas said she was frustrated with the state of roads, stormwater drains and infrastructure.
“I will fast-track the reconstruction of Broughton Pass and regularly communicate with constituents,” she said. “I will ensure the council is accountable on all levels.”
Incumbent councillor Ray Law said more could be done to address accountability and transparency.
Cr Law believes the way forward is through access to information, cooperation between councillors and communication with ratepayers.
Ungrouped candidate Kelli Ferguson said she was fed up residents had to pay an additional $1089 a year for worse services.
“I will ensure the special rate variation is used solely for the infrastructure backlog,” she said.
Matthew Deeth said the shire needed to be preserved for future generations.
“My priorities include fixing Broughton Pass and ensuring the infrastructure backlog is fixed,” he said. “I will lobby for a hospital, public high school, better roads and I will promote agriculture, ecology and heritage.”
Incumbent deputy mayor Hilton Gibbs supports controlled development and promises to keep developer funds within the community.
“I support the rural industry and finding a way forward so it can co-exist with neighbouring properties.”
Cr Gibbs will lobby for more funding so pedestrian and cycling pathways can be built and maintained.
Warragamba’s Sandra Harlor believes she can positively contribute to the shire and will work to make Wollondilly a better place.
“If elected I will do my best to listen to what the community wants and reflect that,” she said. “I want to see Wollondilly shining in all areas from farming to business and controlled development.”
Current councillor Judy Hannan said the shire was under pressure from urban sprawl and she wanted a strategic plan to combat it.
“I want a growth management strategy adopted by state government so we can determine what we want our shire to look like,” she said. “We want a rural outlook with some appropriate development and the supporting infrastructure. I also want to fix our roads.”
Sarah Wellington wants to be a spokesperson for her community to ensure the thoughts and opinions of others are heard.
“I will work to ensure the characters of the towns in Wollondilly remain rural,” she said. “The country lifestyle attracts people to this area and it needs to be maintained through careful town planning.”