Five hopefuls are vying for one of three seats in the Keith and Cullen ward of Moray Council.
Issues concerning voters in the two main centres of population and the area’s more rural communities include the future of the Turner Memorial Hospital and care services.
Tracy Colyer, Conservative
Tracy Colyer is the first of two Conservative candidates standing for Keith and Cullen.
She moved to Grange from Kent with her husband three years ago and previously worked for an international clothing company.
Ms Colyer is campaigning for fairer council funding, better roads, improved planning regulations, tackling anti-social behaviour and improving people’s health and wellbeing.
She said: “There are people who are very lonely and isolated, so I’m looking to start up a wellbeing hub at King Memorial Hall at Grange.
“If you’re a councillor I think you have to be able to give everything to it, and not have to juggle it with other things, and I am in a position to be able to throw myself into the job.
“My biggest wish is that all the candidates who are elected and will be in the privileged position of representing their constituents will put the public first, work as a team with no party political bickering.
“The people of Moray deserve far better than they have had for the last five years.”
Theresa Coull, SNP
Theresa Coull has been SNP councillor for the ward since 2017.
She was vice-chairwoman of the economic development and infrastructure committee, and for the last six months chairwoman of the police and fire and rescue committee.
Married with three children and five grandchildren, she has lived in Keith for more then 40 years.
Mrs Coull said: “We’re looking at a new CCTV system in Keith, as that’s been an issue for a while. The A96 is a priority and it’s vital that we get that dualled.
“Health and social care needs to be better. There’s a shortage of staff and that’s causing problems.
“We need better hours, pay and training, and that could get people applying for and staying in the job.
“We need to be building new houses in rural areas. Elgin is expanding and expanding but we need expansion in our towns and villages.
“Communities are taking on more and more responsibilities, and while we do help to empower and support groups, I’d like to see that done a little bit better.
“Let’s face it, they’re taking on facilities that the council would have been running.”
Donald Gatt, Conservative
Conservative candidate Donald Gatt has served as councillor in the ward for the last five years and was chairman of the audit and scrutiny committee.
He served in the RAF for more than 20 years and settled in Moray after leaving the air force in 2005.
Mr Gatt wants fairer funding for councils as well as economic growth, and is eager to see coastal communities capitalise on their success in attracting more tourists when travel abroad was restricted by the pandemic.
He said: “One issue that impacts across the board is funding for local councils. There’s too much control centrally from the Scottish Government, and we can see that with the early learning and childcare budget.”
The £3.3 million overspend on expanding the early learning service has been caused in part by a change to the funding formula agreed between government and Cosla.
Mr Gatt said: “And we’ve got to look at the budget that’s just been passed, there’s a funding gap of more than £20 million. That will have to be addressed and it will be a tough nut to crack.
“The Turner Memorial Hospital in Keith, NHS Grampian is talking about a new health centre but not a new hospital, and that’s of concern.”
Leslie Tarr, Liberal Democrat
Originally from Dundee, Liberal Democrat candidate Leslie Tarr has lived in Cullen for 23 years, after regularly visiting the town as a holidaymaker.
A branch secretary with the union Unison, he is keen to see support for individuals and businesses recovering from the pandemic, and for those struggling to heat their homes because of rising fuel prices.
Mr Tarr said: “I’m looking to get back to the community and put something in and try to make a bit of a difference.
“I became branch secretary just as Covid hit, and we represented a lot of care workers and people who were terrified of what they were facing in care homes.
“The cost of fuel is an issue. A lot of properties are old and difficult to heat, and a lot of older people need help heating their homes.
“Both Keith and Cullen rely on tourism and that needs to be built up. There’s no big industry coming in, and businesses need to be given help following the Covid pandemic.”
William Barclay, Scottish Family Party
William Barclay, who is representing the Scottish Family Party, is the fifth candidate standing in the ward. Attempts to contact Mr Barclay have been unsuccessful.
The local government elections will be held on May 5.
The count in Moray will take place in Elgin Town Hall the following day.