People hand out pre-poll leaflets yesterday. Picture: SYLVIA LIBERThe residents of Kiama Municipality go to the polls today to elect nine councillors to serve for the next four years.

There are 32 candidates vying for election, and with the absence of Kiama’s long-serving mayor Sandra McCarthy and her team from the ballot paper, the race is wide open.

Kiama residents will know who will occupy at least six of the nine positions on council later tonight. However, the make-up of the full council is not expected until at least Thursday, when all postal votes have been counted and preferences distributed.

The new council will vote for Kiama’s next mayor and deputy mayor on September 25.

The Kiama Greens have distanced themselves from an unauthorised flyer distributed in the Gerringong area in the lead-up to today’s poll.

The two-page flyer, which has a heading “Danger, Danger. Say No To Shellcove [sic] in Gerringong”, claimed “many of the candidate groups nominating for council would work together to change the ‘green’ direction of the current Council”.

Kiama Deputy Mayor Brian Petschler said the flyer made “outrageous claims” about the councillors who were standing again and had created fear about the expansion of Gerringong’s boundaries south. “It contains half-truths wrapped in misrepresentation,” Cr Petschler said. “It paints a picture of my group and other groups which is simply not true.”

An angry Gavin McClure, The Right Direction’s lead candidate, said the flyers were “nothing more than scaremongering by a group who know they’re on their way out.”

“Some of the allegations on this leaflet could be construed by voters in such a way that it could mislead their votes,” he said.

Kiama Greens candidate Andrew Sloan said he had no idea of the flyer’s existence until it began appearing in letterboxes.

“Having said that, there are some sentiments that I do agree with – urban sprawl is a concern for the Gerringong community – but this flyer has nothing to do with us at all,” Mr Sloan said.

Cr Petschler said though he believed the Greens candidates were not involved, he feared for democracy in the Kiama Municipality when “faceless, hard-nosed” people – often involved with political parties – resorted to such tactics.

Although anonymous flyers were nothing new for election campaigns, Cr Petschler said it hadn’t been a tactic used in Kiama in recent times.

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