Byron Council Elections

April 27th, 2024

2024 is a big year for elections. Half the world’s population will go to the ballot box in 64 countries, plus the EU. Byron Shire, although in its own bubble, will also move into election mode. NSW will hold council elections on Saturday, September 14. Candidate registration closes on August 14. It may be a good time to look at what the Byron Shire Council may look like after September.

We have a good chance of having a very centrist progressive council. At this early stage, we know who is not running again. Duncan Dey (Green) and Cate Coorey (Independent) are chucking it in. They have both been diligent and capable councillors but have consistently been the two councillors who have usually voted Deep Green. On the right side of the panel, Alan Hunter (Independent but ex-National Party) is also not running. The two councillors elected on Mayor Michael Lyon’s winning Independent team, Peter Westheimer and Sama Balson, are not contending.

Michael Lyon looks like he is running again and would have a good chance of keeping his position. Cr Sarah Ndiaye has already announced and been nominated by the Byron Greens as their mayoral candidate. She has four women on her team, including 28-year-old Elia Hauge, a water engineer. She will be the youngest person ever to join the council if elected. Also on the ticket are two local Bundgalong women, Delta Kay and Michelle Lowe. Delta is a well-known and respected indigenous elder who does a spirited and articulate Welcome to Country.

It has yet to be announced who will be on Michael Lyon’s team. There has been talk that local tourism consultant Meridith Wray will be announced as Michael’s #2. If Michael is elected Mayor, his number 2 is immediately given a spot and, if receiving enough votes, the #3 on the team as well.

Mark Swivel (independent) and Asren Pugh (Labor) have been strong and capable councillors over this last term. If they nominate, which is likely, expect them to win again. The question will be whether either has a shot at running for mayor, as both did in 2021. They would have a slim chance but are unlikely to unseat Lyon or get ahead of Ndiaye with her locked-in Green support base.

Therefore, we could speculate that this future council will include Michael Lyon, Sarah Ndiaye, Mark Swivel, Asren Pugh, Meredith Wray, and Elia Hauge. The remaining three spots would be the #3 on whichever team gets the mayoral spot, plus two others.

As the saying goes, a week is a long time in politics, and with over four months until the election, much can change. Whatever way it goes, there is not a lot between these most likely six contenders, so there is a chance the incoming council could be relatively harmonious and capable. Not such a bad thing.

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