Cr Kevin Baker to remain on Lake Macquarie City Council until the new election date of September 2021

STABILITY: Cr Kevin Baker, left, said he would stay on as a councillor until the new election date of September 2021. Picture: Supplied.
STABILITY: Cr Kevin Baker, left, said he would stay on as a councillor until the new election date of September 2021. Picture: Supplied.

THE state government has postponed local council elections until September 2021 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The local council elections in NSW had been scheduled for September this year.

The deferral raises the prospect of possible by-elections in those local government areas where a sitting councillor had wanted out at the election this year.

Earlier this month, Lake Macquarie councillor Kevin Baker (Liberal) announced his intention not to contest the 2020 election.

But Cr Baker this week assured locals that he would stay the new distance.

"I intend to continue in my role as councillor until the [2021] election," Cr Baker said.

"Our community needs leadership and stability, and I will not endanger the safety of the community by causing a by-election."

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Cr Baker said he applauded the changes introduced by the state government that would allow council meetings to be held remotely.

"Both my wife and son are considered high risk in regards to COVID-19, so this decision enables me to continue to serve the community," he said.

Cr Baker said his original decision not to recontest a seat on the council this year had been made after significant deliberation.

Key factors in that decision had been his "already high workload and charity work", and his family situation in living and caring for his son who had a significant disability and medical conditions.

He said postponing the election was the right call.

"Now is not the time to be putting people in more danger by forcing them to have to line up and vote," he said.

A spokesperson for the council also backed the decision to postpone the elections, thus ensuring the health and safety of all involved.

Council would continue to work to deliver projects, programs and services in line with the city's long-term Community Strategic Plan, the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Local Government NSW (LGNSW) welcomed the decision to postpone council elections because it provided "certainty to Australian communities during these extraordinary times".

LGNSW President Linda Scott said she was grateful the government had acted swiftly because there had never been a more important time for "visionary local leadership that provided hope and guidance" for each part of NSW.

"In light of the minister's decision to delay local elections because of the COVID-19 crisis, I know all elected councillors will continue to work across political boundaries to pull together for the public good," Cr Scott said.

"Mayors and councillors are working hard to ensure good governance continues during the COVID-19 crisis and will continue to do so."

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