Tweed election in turmoil after candidate dies
THE Tweed Shire Council election has been thrown into turmoil and is likely to be postponed after the death of a candidate from Kingscliff today.
Ken "Stents" Nicholson, who at 88-years-old was the oldest candidate contesting the Tweed poll, died in the Tweed Hospital about 1.15pm today after suffering a heart attack and fall a week ago.
Mr Nicholson was standing as a candidate on the ticket of former Kingscliff councillor Ron Cooper, who is heading the "No High Rise" group fighting against any possible change to building height limits in the coastal village.
Under rules outlined on the NSW Electoral Commission website, if a candidate dies between noon on nomination day and 6pm on election day, "the election fails and a new election in that council area or ward will be held at a later date".
It is understood the earliest an election can be held is 40 days after a decision is made by Local Government Minister Paul Toole, which means the earliest the Tweed can go to the polls is October.
A retired banker and frequent letter writer to the Tweed Daily News, Mr Nicholson ran for government as a Democrats candidate three times and more recently had become an avid Nick Xenophon supporter.
Mr Cooper told the Tweed Daily News tonight his long-term friend had given to the community right up until the end.
"He was a good friend and a man I admired a lot," Mr Cooper said.
"He had a heart attack and had other hospital-driven complications such as pneumonia and a stomach bug which he picked up in there aswell. He was old and had age-related stuff."
Mr Cooper said Mr Nicholson, who leaves behind two sons and two grandchildren, had been keenly interested in contesting the council poll.
"I knew it was what he would like to do, it was just the last thing he gave: he gave and gave and gave to the community," Mr Cooper said.
"He was forever interested in how a community functioned and whether it was getting a fair deal."
This is believed to be the first time a council election has been cancelled in NSW due to a candidate death.
Comment is being sought from the minister and the NSW Electoral Commission.