The state of Wagga's roads and how to boost council's budget were two of the key issues dominating debate as the candidates vying for a spot on Wagga City Council came face to face with voters on Tuesday night.
Moderated by long-term Wagga resident Jim Doig, candidates addressed hot topics ranging from the water levels at Lake Albert, the number of potholes in the city's roads and the influence of political parties in local council.
One representative from each group and the independent candidates introduced themselves and their platforms to open the night, before the floor was opened and attending community members were able to question the council hopefuls.
The first question of the night was issued to Jenny McKinnon, the lead candidate on the Greens ticket, who was asked why she believes bringing politics into local council will improve the decision-making.
"Politics has been in local government forever and a day," Dr McKinnon responded. "We live and breathe our values as Greens ... and we want to be open, honest and transparent about that."
Amelia Parkins, second on the Labor ticket, was asked whether or not the Labor candidates would "continue voting in a bloc" should more than one of them be elected.
"I will vote based on research that I've done and informed decisions - it won't be led by any party," Ms Parkins said.
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The condition of Wagga's roads were a recurring topic in both the candidates' opening speeches and the questions from residents.
Maddison Smith, who is running as the second name on the Community First ticket, was asked what she would see removed from council's budget to fulfill the necessary road maintenance.
As she is not a current councillor, Ms Smith conceded she had not analysed the budget directly but said it would be something she'd be looking into if she were elected.
"Obviously the roads are something that everyone is really pushing and I really think this is something we'll have to have a big look at once council is elected," she said.
Georgie Davies, the lead candidate on the Getting It Done ticket, was asked what she would be looking to do differently to the current council if she were elected.
"Some of the areas we see which need improving are the state of our roads and in particular how can we look into better quality materials to fix our roads and how can we look into new technology to stay on top of the problem," Mrs Davies said.
Fiona Ziff has been passionately pushing council for an improved flood levee in North Wagga and was asked if she would carry this passion to issues in other parts of the city.
She said this lobbying made her aware of council processes and the number of decisions that are currently being made "behind closed doors without adequate community deliberation" and that this is what she would be fighting to rectify if elected.
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Boat club commodore Mick Henderson, who is leading the Clean Out Council ticket, was asked what he would do differently to current councillors.
"What I'd like to see us do is go in and see how top-heavy our council really is," he said. "The reason we haven't got money to spend on roads and infrastructure is because it's all absorbed in wages and wasted money - it needs to be restructured."
Here For You candidate Alexandra Cesnik was also asked what she would remove from the budget to fund road maintenance.
"Getting into what we are going to remove from a budget that is already ridiculously tight is definitely not a plan I can come up with in the 12 seconds I have left ... but it is definitely something I am passionate about," she said.
Independent candidate Richard Salcole was asked how he would make council more transparent and said it was something that definitely needed to be addressed which he would be looking into it elected.
"Council should be transparent and council should be open to the community," Mr Salcole said.
Robert Sinclair, who has also nominated as an independent candidate, was asked if he would be beholden to political party policies.
"I am the secretary of the Liberal Party down here and I hold true to the Liberal Party philosophy," Mr Sinclair said. "Does that mean I am going to be told what to vote for by Sydney? Absolutely not."
President of the Wagga Residents and Ratepayers Association Chris Roche said he was happy with the turnout to the event and feedback has been positive.
"People have said they appreciated the forum because we didn't really know anything about the candidates and what they stood for," Mr Roche said.
"We had about 160 people attend the event and as of Wednesday we have about 1800 views on the video of the livestream on our Facebook page."
Mr Roche encouraged Wagga residents to ensure they are as informed as possible ahead of the election.
"Read as much information about all the candidates so you are making a wise decision," he said.
In the lead up to this year's election, The Daily Advertiser has profiled the candidates looking to secure a spot on Wagga City Council.
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