The Meet the Candidates Forum at the Gladstone Entertainment Centre presented all the local government candidates to the public.
The Meet the Candidates Forum at the Gladstone Entertainment Centre presented all the local government candidates to the public. Brenda Strong

Candidates say their piece

THE atmosphere of the old town hall was alive and well last night, even if it was a bit fancier.

A total of 22 nominees and two mayoral candidates took the opportunity to address the public ahead of the Gladstone Regional Council elections this Saturday.

The pressure was on, as each candidate had three minutes to address the audience at The Observer Meet the Candidates forum at the Entertainment Centre.

Speakers approached the task in their own way.

Some evoked the memories of their ancestors living in the region for more than a century.

Others spoke of moving here.

Speakers fell into two camps: those supportive of the work done by council so far, and those critical of it.

Some, such as Bruce Rhoades, Gary Dingle and Charlie Thompson, were intensely critical of council management.

Incumbent councillors spoke of the challenges in the past four years and argued the council had performed well despite them.

Another contrast was the difference between youth and experience.

David Brown, PJ Sobhanian and argued they had the young blood Gladstone needed.

Cr Col Chapman, Maxine Brushe and others argued experience was needed in an organisation with a $200 million budget.

Deputy Mayor Matt Burnet argued he had both.

Another division between the various speakers was that of optimism versus criticism.

Michael Pope took a very different tangent from fellow speakers, outlining what he believed were a shining set of advantages for the region, setting it up for a future with a bigger, more vibrant

Gladstone city at the heart of the region.

Rather than viewing the population boom as a problem, Mr Pope identified it as an advantage, saying the region should aim to attract people from all over Australia to settle here and raise families.

"It is Australia's best interests to make Gladstone the centre of excellence in the north of Australia," he said.