OUR SAY: The man who would be king: the battle for mayor begins

JOHN Davis will again have a challenger for the mayoral collar in two weeks’ time, but it will come from a different corner, with councillor Jeff Whitton putting his name forward.

The match-up is an interesting one - both have a background in business and bring a business approach to the council. 

Cr Davis has the track record of 11 terms in office, while Cr Whitton has served multiple terms as deputy mayor and also chairs the sustainable development committee, which oversees proposed developments in Orange. 

Qualifications are not in doubt for either councillor, regardless of who their peers ultimately back, but leadership style could differ significantly.

Both support extra employment and council’s need to cover its main responsibilities of roads, footpaths and rubbish, however Cr Davis has presided over years of large-scale developments.

The Northern Distributor Road, the aquatic centre and the majority of the airport expansion will have been completed under his watch and the museum is due to start in October. 

By comparison, Cr Whitton says he will return to the basics.

Who councillors vote for will indicate whether they want to continue down the city-building route, or whether they want to consolidate what has already been achieved - a dilemma no doubt, considering Orange’s young population and the future infrastructure needs they will create versus ratepayers’ complaints about high rates.

Councillors Davis and Whitton, together with deputy mayoral hopefuls Chris Gryllis and Scott Munro, will certainly give their fellow representatives much to think about before the vote, even if no other councillors put their names in the mix. 

History favours certain candidates and Cr Davis in particular has survived challenges before, but if, as rumour has it, councillors Russell Turner, Reg Kidd and Jason Hamling also put their names in the ring, the vote could become incredibly close.