Development or lifestyle?
It's shaping up to be the question of the 2021 Tamworth council elections.
Candidate Marjolyn Thomas wasn't the only candidate to tell Monday's Business Chamber debate that Tamworth Regional Council has spent too much time on the big picture, and not enough on the little one.
"Big picture thinking is hugely important and I'm a great supporter of Blueprint 100, but councils need to service the community on all levels and it has to commit to doing that on all levels..." she said.
"I would like to propose a move forward to getting an actual councillor allocated to each region to advocate for their needs."
From the half-a-billion dollar Dungowan Dam, to a new industrial estate the size of Sydney's CBD next to the new rail intermodal, to the biggest plan of all, the Blueprint 100 plan to grow the city to 100,000 by 2041, the council has a big vision.
Ms Thomas wasn't the only councillor to say the city needs to think little too.
Candidate Ray Tait believes it's a balancing act.
It's because Tamworth is a great place to live that there is a "golden opportunity" to attract people from Sydney to the regions, given the metropolitan COVID-19 exodus," he said on Monday.
"I was once told that the only thing that Tamworth lacks is a beach, other than that we've got the lot," he said.
"To me lifestyle and development have to go hand-in-hand."
But he said the city's roads were crumbling.
"I spoke to a gentleman today, who lives just south of town near Meadows Lane," Mr Tait said.
"He said to me, [in] 40 years, he's never seen a grader ... on his bit of road. He said admittedly there's only three people who live on that road, but our three people pay rates."
Councillor Russell Webb said the trick was "sustainable growth", both financially and environmentally.
"I've been on the council since amalgamation for 17 years... have we got everything right? I would say probably not," he said.
"We've got a lot of things right, we've done a lot of good things, but there are some things we could do better. We need to hear from the people in our community about what they want us to do if we do get elected."
Chris Buckman told the room that he thought Tamworth would make the "magic 100,000 number", but the journey is just as important as the destination.
"I think we're going to get there, but I'd like for everybody to actually enjoy the trip rather than just have it forced on us," he said.
Almost all candidates backed the idea of development.
Just one outright explicitly opposed the current plans for growth.
ALP candidate Mick Lawlor said he stood for the basics, but added an extra R to the traditional slogan of nuts-and-bolts candidates.
Mr Lawlor wants council to focus on "renewable energy, roads, rates and rubbish."
"I don't believe that it's a priority for Tamworth to have 100,000 people living here," he said.
"I don't believe we've got the water here at this stage of the game and I don't believe that Dungowan Dam is the complete answer to that."
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