THE race is on to find a replacement for benefit fraudster Labour councillor Lisa Smiles, after her resignation left the St Anne’s ward a member down.
Four candidates – representing the Green Party, UKIP, Labour and the Conservative Party – will compete for the role in a by-election on March 27.
Voters have until Tuesday to register with Sunderland City Council, while applications to vote by post must be received by 5pm on Wednesday
Emily Blyth will contest the seat for the Green Party. The 30-year-old full-time University of Sunderland student and community musician has lived in South Hylton all her life and says she is proud of the area.
She said: “My main priorities would be doing what I can to protect our most vulnerable residents from cuts to vital services, and likewise seeking to support an inclusive community for people of all backgrounds.
“At times of economic difficulty it’s all too easy to scapegoat the poor, the disabled, the migrants, and there are plenty of voices doing that, when in reality such groups are the hardest hit by the destructive cuts agenda.
“I’m also passionate about keeping the NHS in public hands, and for our public transport system to be run in the best interests of passengers, not corporations.”
UKIP candidate Aileen Casey, 58, is a mum-of-two, who lives in Springwell. She is a youth worker who is passionate about supporting young people.
Aileen said: “Labour councillors have held their safe seats for decades. Many people don’t vote because there hasn’t been a real choice or they vote the same way as their parents or grandparents have done.
“Things need to change in Sunderland. Voting for UKIP is the only way to bring about these long overdue changes and to ensure that the wishes of the local people are carried out.
“The current Labour administration just follows the diktats of their London based Party leaders. Elected UKIP councillors always put local residents before Party doctrine.”
Labour’s Jacqui Gallagher lives in Thorney Close. She is a life-long trade unionist who has represented Unison at Sunderland City Council for more than 10 years.“I have worked in children’s services my whole career, dealing with some of the most difficult cases and making a positive difference in some families lives, that has held me in great job satisfaction.
“Over this time I have gained a great insight into how the council works and still have many connections at the city council. I feel that this experience and my training and knowledge of representing people as a union rep gives me a unique advantage over the other candidates in this election to represent the people of St Anne’s ward on the city council.
“I would ask for votes because having brought my family up on a large council estate using the local services myself, I have a clear insight into benefits or problems associated with our way of life. If I am trusted with the community’s vote I promise to work tirelessly for the people within the St Anne’s ward.”
Former opposition leader Tony Morrissey will contest the seat for the Conservatives. The 42-year-old, who lives in Hendon, came to Sunderland from County Cork in the 1990s.
Tony served in the Territorial Army and saw active service in Iraq during the Gulf war. Until 2012 Tony represented the Barnes ward.
“I’m running to give residents a serious alternative to Labour,” Tony said. “The council needs a wake-up call. With the help of the voters of St Anne’s I intend giving them exactly that.”
Former Labour councillor Lisa Smiles (pictured below) resigned just days before she was due to be thrown off the council for failing to attend meetings for six months.
She was convicted in September of fraudulently claiming £2,318 in housing and council tax benefits, having failed to declare income including her councillor’s allowance.
•Anyone who is not registered or would like further information, should call Electoral Services at Sunderland City Council on 0191 561 1144 or contact email@example.com.