After serving almost eight years as a Corowa Shire Councillor, finishing in the role of deputy mayor in 2016, Mark Shields says the “fire has kept burning” as he seeks re-election in September’s Federation Council elections.
The Howlong resident said he was keen to vie for one of nine positions in what will be the first elected Federation Council.
“The fire has kept burning and, if anything, it’s a desire to make sure we do get an effective local government back in place,” he told the Free Press.
The Fire and Rescue NSW member, who is serving his 35th year, believes restoring the trust and faith of the community in council after it has been running in administration for more than 12 months will be the hardest issue.
“We will need consistency and good policy, but above all, be prepared to listen and act on community concerns to help restore faith,” he said.
Mr Shields was part of Howlong’s representative committee between 2005 and 2008 before becoming a Corowa councillor in 2008.
He has been a vocal objector to the Cleanaway proposal to build an organic compost facility within Howlong’s tip.
“It’s the wrong type of facility in the wrong spot,” Mr Shields said.
As a member of the Howlong Community Committee representing the community against the development proposal, he says he will continue to fight the development application.
The Joint Regional Planning panel has deferred its decision on the proposal after a public hearing last month.
Mr Shields believes the issue will “sit right over the top of council elections”.
“This is the clear burning issue that will divide people’s loyalties to who they vote for because it is a big issue that’s been going now since September last year.”
In regards to Corowa’s pool situation, Mr Shields says he would strongly advocate for the public’s wishes.
“The public has spoken several times and in the last public survey they wanted a 50 metre pool,” he said.
However, Mr Shields believes there has not been enough exploration of the 50 metre pool option.
“Within the 50 metre pool option there are options as well,” he said.
“We don’t just have to have a competition 50 metre pool in place all the time; you can get pools with variable height levels to cater for both recreational and competition usages.
“Nobody knows these things exist until you actually look into these things and that’s what we need to do, explore these options.”
Mr Shields’ other positions on key policies include plans, strategies and standards for the upkeep and amenity of all council owned and controlled assets.
He also has clear policies for sporting venues, which include helping sporting clubs while encouraging greater participation from players and spectators.
“At the moment we have some sporting clubs that are struggling and we don’t want to see an impost on them, that does not make them stronger,” he said.
“Council has floated the idea for discussion on perhaps rental being charged to the sporting bodies to use the sporting facilities.”
Mr Shields would also like to see the establishment of strong council committees across all areas of council involvement.