Ray Hopper
Ray Hopper Keagan Elder

Defeated MPs among applicants for Somerset councillor role

A WHOPPING 33 entries have been received by Somerset Regional Council for the councillor position vacated by new Ipswich West MP Jim Madden.

Mr Madden is a former Somerset councillor and because his election to state parliament was more than 12 months out from the net council elections, legislation dictates that a new councillor must be appointed by the current council.

Former state parliamentarians Sean Choat and Ray Hopper are two of the high profile candidates who have applied.

Mr Choat was previously the LNP MP for Ipswich West while Mr Hopper was Darling Downs and Condamine MP, initially for the LNP before joining Katter's Australian Party in 2012.

Mr Hopper contested the 2015 state election in the seat of Nanango but lost while Mr Choat also lost his seat when the LNP was swept from power.

Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann said the large number of entrants was a good sign that there were plenty of community minded people in the Somerset.

"We've had 33 applicants and now we will short list them down to about four," he said.

"As soon as we come up with a short list we will notify those people and bring them in for an interview.

"There are a lot of people who are interested in their community and it is good to see them put their names forward.

"There are some on the list who ran for council last time but didn't make it."

Cr Lehmann said the short listed applicants would then make a presentation to the councillors before a final decision was made at a date to be determined.

A new councillor could be appointed as soon as next Wednesday.

The identity of the full list cannot be released by Somerset Regional Council due to the Privacy Act.

Cr Lehmann said the appointment process was not ideal, with councillors usually being elected by the public.

But it is a process mandated by legislation and the Somerset council must abide by the law.

"If it was less than 12 months until the next (council) election we could have kept on going with the councillors that we had," Cr Lehmann said.

"It is not something that any of us want to do but it is something we have to do."

"We have got to go through the process and we have got to appoint."