Shireheads to the polls

By Cobram Courier

Tocumwal nurse Ruth Silvester’s last-minute nomination to stand for the Berrigan Shire Council by-election will send shire residents to the polls on July 14.

Up until Tuesday last week, Berrigan farmer Roger Reynoldson was the sole candidate to fill the position left vacant by long-time Berrigan councillor Bernard Curtin’s death in April.

With diverse experience in the health industry, including as Tocumwal Local Health Advisory Committee chair, Mrs Silvester, 68, believes she will be a strong advocate for better health facilities across the shire.

She spent more than 30 years as a health administrator at hospitals in Finley, Traralgon, Rochester and Tocumwal, and is training to become become a volunteer palliative care worker.

She is also a member of the Ambulance for Tocumwal Committee and secretary of Friends of the Save the Finley Presbyterian Church Committee.

‘‘I believe my professional experience and skills as well as interest in local and community-based issues will give me the opportunity to bring those things to the council table,’’ Mrs Silvester said.

‘‘My approach to matters of council issues are based on merit and impact on the shire.

‘‘My plan will be to ensure the community is provided with an open and transparent communication between council and community.’’

Mrs Silvester said while health was her strong point, she would not be a ‘‘single issue or one town councillor’’.

She said another issue that needed to be addressed by council was the closure of some retail stores across the shire.

‘‘I understand two stores will be closing soon and it’s a sad time for them and their community,’’ she said.

‘‘Berrigan and Finley needs support to maintain their stability, for them to have thriving communities.

‘‘If the council can’t maintain great things in the towns, it will affect the whole shire.

‘‘The councillors are elected for the whole shire and I believe I have the experience to address the issues of any person in the community within their town.

‘‘This is a chance for me to give back to the community.

‘‘I’m interested in health and healthy communities, and local government should be able to assist in those sorts of things.’’