MARYBOROUGH businesspeople have grilled the region's mayoral candidates on their plans to take the Fraser Coast into the future.

Candidates Gerard O'Connell, Greg Schmidt, Jannean Dean, Chris Loft and Steve Coleman took questions from the crowd of about 50 people at the Maryborough Chamber of Commerce's mayoral breakfast.

Lee Carter was absent, believed to be due to health issues.

Rates, governance, the sport precinct and the Duncan Chapman project were all hot topics at the forum, held at the Brolga Theatre's Federation room.

Targeting Cr O'Connell's approach of positivity, Cr Loft spoke about his frustrations on the way the council was being run and the direction the region was heading.

"You can put your head in the clouds and think it's all hunky dory - it's not, the business needs a shake," he said.

Cr O'Connell refuted his colleague's claims of "dysfunction" in the council's operations.

"I know we've got challenges but none are insurmountable," he said.

Cr O'Connell was forced to defend the Fraser Coast Sport Precinct, which was again a hot topic of debate.

"Only the money that has been allocated by this council will be spent, no more," he said.

Changing tone, Ms Dean said during her visits to outlying areas of the Fraser Coast residents were complaining about a lack of consultation.

"People are upset they are not being listened to," she said.

"They aren't getting the chance to have their say."

Ms Coleman spoke about increasing the responsibility of councillors and taking some decision-making abilities away from the council's senior staff.

He and other candidates also threw their support behind building stage two of the Duncan Chapman project.

Mr Schmidt said he would draw on his previous employment experience to drive the council.

"A construction company and council is pretty much the same thing in principle," he said.

"It's a business from the bloke at the top right down to the person with the shovel.

"Rates down without services lost, Greg Schmidt for mayor."