Wagga City Council candidates say the election delay has been a disappointment but they have also seen an opportunity in having three more months to campaign.
Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock confirmed on Sunday that the elections across 125 NSW councils that were meant to take place on September 4 had now been pushed back to December 4, 2021 due to COVID-19.
Council elections have already been delayed by 12 months from September 2020 due to the pandemic.
Wagga council election candidate Rory McKenzie said it was "pretty disappointing".
"We understand the impacts of COVID but in regional areas like Wagga we have been pretty good at managing it and haven't had any outbreaks," he said.
"Sydney has been going through a tough time but it's a bit silly that regional Australia feels the brunt of that in delaying local elections that coudl have been done with minimal risk if done right."
Ms Hancock and the Office of Local Government were asked why a COVID-safe strategy for council elections had seemingly not been developed in the 12 months since the first delay, but they did not respond prior to publication.
"We have taken this step to postpone the election to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our communities, voters, polling staff and candidates," Ms Hancock said in a statement.
The council voting procedures will change to allow more people to vote early or from home.
Ms Hancock said the iVote electronic voting system will also be available for the first time in council elections and changes to pre-polling would ensure voters have 13 days to cast their ballot, reducing congestion on polling day.
"Getting It Done" Wagga candidate group leader Georgie Davies said the NSW government had no choice but to delay the election.
"It's a little bit annoying for our group as we have just had 500 flyers printed that have now got the wrong date on them and I have heard of another candidate who has just had 200 corflutes printed, so that's an expensive thing for them, " she said.
"But there's nothing you can do and I think the decision is fine. It just gives us more of an opportunity to visit more villages, speak with more locals and to get our message out there."
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Wagga council election candidate Fiona Ziff said the delay was a good thing and she hoped it would give more independent candidates the chance to run.
"Those independents like me have just got their heads around everything and then were facing just six weeks to go before the election so this gives us a bit more time," she said.
Wagga mayor Greg Conkey said he will continue in the role of mayor for an additional three months despite anouncing earlier this month that he planed to retire at the next council election.
Cr Conkey said Wagga City Council had been advised by the Office of Local Government that councillors elected in 2020 could continue in their positions until after the new election date in December.
"In my case, I was elected last year so I will remain in office until the 4th of December," Cr Conkey said.
"I will continue on. I think in my case it is appropriate. It's the same council and I will be continuing on in that role."
The council sought advice after word got out on Saturday that the elections would be delayed and the NSW government did not clarify what would happen to current mayors and councillors.
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