Port Stephens local government election: Three councillors to quit, Steve Tucker back in

BACK ON THE HUSTINGS: Cr Steve Tucker says he will now stand for the central ward at the December 4 council elections.

BACK ON THE HUSTINGS: Cr Steve Tucker says he will now stand for the central ward at the December 4 council elections.

A politically-charged debate at the September 28 meeting of Port Stephens Council over the appointment of a new CEO at Port Stephens Koala Hospital provided a sneak preview into what could be in store in the lead-up to the council election.

Leah Anderson, who will stand as a Labor Party mayoral candidate for the December 4 election, stepped down from three boards in the space of one week in August to take on the CEO position at the hospital.

In a notice of motion presented to the last meeting, Cr Ken Jordan said he believed the appointment "did not pass the pub test" and recommended that "PSK show cause why all payments to PSK should not be suspended while the probity of the appointment of a mayoral candidate to the position of CEO of PSK is investigated".

He argued that PSK was funded by council and a paid CEO's position "probably should of been advertised in the community".

What followed was a 40-minute debate dominated by Cr Jordan and Labor's Cr Giacomo Arnott, interrupted by numerous points of orders and personal attacks.

Eventually, following a failed amendment from Cr Arnott detailing an email from PSK president Ron Land defending the decision to appoint Ms Anderson, the council adopted the following: 'That Council: 1) commits to ensuring that all major funding recipients have open and transparent recruitment processes for paid positions and executive positions. 2) requests the general manager investigate existing agreements with major funding recipients for opportunities to enhance probity in their recruitment processes'.

CANDIDATE: Leah Anderson, PSK Hospital's new CEO and Labor's mayoral candidate for the December 4 elections.

CANDIDATE: Leah Anderson, PSK Hospital's new CEO and Labor's mayoral candidate for the December 4 elections.

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During the discussions two current councillors - Ken Jordan and Jaimie Abbott - publicly stated that they would not be recontesting the December 4 election. It is understood that Sarah Smith also won't run.

And in a post-meeting interview with the Examiner, Cr Steve Tucker revealed that he had reconsidered his earlier decision to retire and that he would stand.

The 67-year-old Tanilba Bay retiree who has already served 17 years and lived in Port Stephens for 42 years, said that the postponement of the election from September to December had given him time to re-evaluate his position as a councillor.

"The next term of council will be greatly reduced from the regular four-year term, in fact it's just a little over 2-and-a-half years which is the time I need to get a few more things done," he said.

"I believe this council has done a great job with the parks, reserves and pathways on the Tilligerry peninsula, now we need to get the roads up to scratch. The satisfaction survey showed that is what the residents care about so that will be my top priority."

Cr Tucker said that he had quite a few locals bale him up at the golf club wanting him to stand again.

"It takes a long time for candidates to become known in their community and with Cr Smith not recontesting, I believe that my experience would benefit the community over the next couple of years. Also, during this time of uncertainty with the pandemic we need stability and I am sure that I can provide that."

Cr Tucker has been involved in a range of committees in central ward over the years, including the Parks and Reserves, soccer club, little athletics, the old Tilligerry Precinct and Sports Council. He currently volunteers his time working on the Tanilba Bay golf course.

"I will put my record in the hands of the electors - they will get their chance to throw me out at the polls."

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