Robert vs Robert in mayoral race for council elections

Susanna Freymark

They’re mates. With a scruffy respect for each other. And both are running for mayor in the council elections on December 4.
Current Richmond Valley mayor Robert Mustow and councillor Robert Hayes have worked together in council for nine years.
While Mr Hayes knows he has a minimal chance of being elected as mayor, he is fine with that.
He was hoping a few others would put their hands up to run, they didn’t and here he is.
“I have nominated because it has been over five years since the community has had a chance to elect a community leader,” Mr Hayes said.
“A mayor needs to be elected in a democratic way by the people on election day.”
Being a mayoral candidate will lift the profile of his team, he said. He is in Group D which includes current councillor Daniel Simpson and Louise Wicks.
Mr Hayes has been a councillor for nine years. He was born and bred in Kyogle and left when he was 17 to start a builder’s apprenticeship around Old Bonalbo where he built rotary dairies. His apprenticeship took him to Moree and then he returned to Kyogle for a few years.
In 1991, he moved to Evans Head and loves living and working there.
“I have built and designed 120 houses units across Evans Head,” he said.

Most of the small-time development I did is now being used for low-cost housing.

He is a building consultant and designer and bases his work around family life and working from home.
Evans Head has changed, he said,
“I have three kids and all have had to leave town because of property prices,” he said.
Two live in Woodburn and one lives in Lismore.
“There’s no quick fix to the housing shortage, the state and federal governments need to address the issue.”
Mr Hayes said he wasn’t like other candidates who say they’ll fix the problem, if he can’t.
He is a strong advocate of young mothers staying at home with the children and believes the government should make that possible with funding.
If he was elected mayor Mr Hayes said he’d want the council to keep progressing like it has in the past five years.
“The success of the council is that we all work together,” he said.

Mr Mustow agrees with working together.

As a fourth generation born in Casino, Mr Mustow spent 15 years of his working life operating his own panel beating business.
As mayor, he attends countless community events. And he wants to keep doing it.
“I’m proud and humbled to represent my community,” Mr Mustow said.
“That’s the reason I work so hard. People have put their faith in me and I don’t want to let them down.”
Because of covid delaying council elections twice, Mr Mustow has been the longest serving mayor for a single term — serving for five years.
His two grown-up children live in Casino.
Is he confident about getting back in as mayor?
“My chances are as good as Robert’s. You never know until election day.”
We asked the Roberts to ask each other a question.
Robert Hayes asked:
At present, council is a non-political united group. If you are re-elected to council as mayor, do you think it is important to keep the new councillors untied and not be involved in party politics?
Robert Mustow said:
I’ve witnessed political interventions in councils and it is destructive. While it is happening, they’re not delivering to the community.
Robert Mustow asked:
Between my election as mayor in late 2016 and until the start of covid lockdown, I attended more than 1200 functions, events and meetings. Owning your own business, how will you find time to attend all these commitment as well as other engagements at the council administration building in Casino.
Robert Hayes said:
My business is very flexible with the type of work that I do. I work from a home office and I will be able to juggle my work so that I’m available for mayoral duties. To take on the role of mayor in a council our size and the small amount of remuneration involved you have to be either semi-retired or self employed. When I was elected to council in 2012, I immediately moved a notice of motion to allow the mayor at the time to have unlimited use of a vehicle. My argument at the time was that in future a mayor may reside at the other end of the council area and would require a car to be able to attend their duties and the office on Casino.
Robert Mustow and Robert Hayes at Main Beach at Evans Head. Photo: Susanna Freymark

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