WHILE their opponents have been highly critical, the decision by the Labor Party to stand a ticket at the September local government elections was an easy one, according to mayoral candidate Des Maslen.
After all, the ALP has traditionally had strong support in Port Stephens and the party currently holds both the state (Kate Washington) and federal (Meryl Swanson) seats.
“I make no apologies for standing under the ALP banner, as a matter of fact I am proud to do so,” said Mr Maslen.
“I can’t believe people are criticising us for having the courage to say this is who we are and this is what we stand for.
“We want to be the community’s voice and we espouse good governance.”
The 52-year-old father-of-three from Medowie said he first became politically motivated nearly five years ago when the proposed Cabbage Tree sand mine came to light and this was accelerated by the RAAF base contamination scandal.
Along the way Mr Maslen attended his first ever council meeting and he says it took just five minutes to convince him that he should stand for mayor.
“The meeting was a shambles to say the least,” he recalled.
“I believe in giving each elected councillor the opportunity to bring their knowledge of expertise to the fore.
“I have a background in engineering and marine biology, others have experience in the finance or social or community sectors … these skills should be utilised in the interests of all.
“You can’t shut down debate simply because you don’t agree with someone.”
Mr Maslen, who has met with both state and federal politicians in Sydney and in Canberra on the contamination issue, has been scathing of the way it has been handled from all three levels of government.
“On the council level, my request for rate relief for those residents living in the red zone has fallen on deaf ears.
“The local council is supposed to look after the community but is failing in this case and I am prepared to do something about it.”
Mr Maslen said that road safety and the environment were priority issues on the ALP agenda.
By Charlie ELIAS