From River St to Macquarie St?

Ballina mayor Phil Silver believes an independent member representing the Ballina electorate in state parliament could achieve more than a backbencher.

Cr Silver, 56, this week announced he was considering running as an independent in the March elections, which would pit him against the Nationals sitting MP Don Page, who has a comfortable margin of nine per cent.

Our local sitting members have been in opposition for a long time and have not had the ready access to ministers that independents have, and were being left behind as a result, he said. There is often criticism that independents are ineffective in formulating policy and achieving outcomes that they dont have the runs on the board. But there are a lot of precedents of former mayors running as independents, such as John Hatton, Ted Mack and others who have made their mark.

Cr Silver said he would make a final decision on whether to run later this month and if elected he would give up the job of mayor, but would continue on as a councillor to avoid a costly by-election.

Cr Silver said the core issues for the electorate were improvements to roads and health infrastructure and increasing police numbers. Another priority issue was climate change and its impact in the area.

Cr Silver said he had been approached about running for state parliament over the Christmas holiday period by a surprisingly broad group of people including folks I didnt even know.

If he did run, he was confident it would be a clean campaign as he and sitting MP Don Page and Labors candidate Melanie Doriean had respect for each other.

Ms Doriean announced last month that she would run against Mr Page, saying one of the main reasons prompting her to do so was the federal governments unfair WorkChoices legislation, which she said was ruining the lives of many working families.

If the Coalition were to win the state elections, it would hand over the industrial relations system to the Commonwealth, she said.

(That) would be a green light for employers to reduce pay and conditions.

Ms Doriean said she was also concerned about the Oppositions plan to axe 20,000 public service jobs, which could mean the loss of many local jobs.

A project management officer with the Department of Education and Training, Ms Doriean said other platforms of her campaign included extra funding for health services, addressing youth-related issues and caring for the local environment.

It will be the first time Ms Doriean has sought election to any level of government. She joined the Labor Party almost seven years ago because she was concerned many people did not understand how policies and decisions were arrived at.

I wanted to be part of the policy and decision-making process... unless youre involved at the grass roots level you dont have an understanding of that, she said.

Ms Doriean has lived in the Ballina electorate for 24 years and currently lives in Rous Mill with her husband John. Their three children have all grown up in the area and attended local schools.The Greens are also contesting the seat with John Bailey as their candidate for Ballina.

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