Rockhampton voters will be spoiled for choice when they vote on Saturday the 23rd. January, going to a by-election is the top job in town.
The city in central Queensland has been without a mayor since November when Margaret Strelow stepped down after nearly a decade in the role.
The Councilor Conduct Tribunal found that Cr Strelow had committed wrongdoing by failing to update her register of interests to include a hospitality service received from Adani during an official trip to India in 2017.
Her resignation prompted the state parliament early last month to pass a retrospective amendment to local government law that prevented the mayor’s runner-up, Chris Hooper, from automatically assuming the role.
Seventeen candidates have raised their hands for mayor, from elected councilors to local teachers and everything in between.
Against the background of the record-low vacancy rates, increasing homelessness and booming industry and agriculture, the candidates turned to voters on very different platforms in order to steer Rockhampton’s future economically and socially.
Russell Claus | Tony Williams | Bronwyn Laverty-Young | Leyland Barnett | Shane Latcham | Christian Shepherd | Dominic Doblo | Remy McCamley | Donna Kirkland | Cherie Rutherford | Rob Crow | Christopher Davies | John Rewald | Brett Williams | Miranda Broadbent | Chris Hooper | Nyree Johnson
After 21 years in the US, Queenslander Russell Claus moved back to Australia seven years ago and saw the potential of Rockhampton’s future.
« I’m a visionary so I understand what needs to be done and how to achieve it, » he said.
Mr. Claus said his priorities included creating strong interactions and communication within the community, creating job security and an optimistic future for the region.
Cr Williams’ portfolio for Division Three includes the portfolio for infrastructure and auxiliary tourism. He is also the chairman of the civil protection group.
One of his priorities is reducing the Rockhampton Council’s $ 6. 2 million electricity bill, for which he has already submitted a feasibility study for a small solar park.
« I’m even considering the possibility of working with the state government to work out a minibus system that works on this electrical system, » he said.
Shiftworker and Bronwyn Laverty-Young of Rockhampton wants to improve the city’s tourism profile and encourage more businesses and families to call home the area.
Ms. Laverty-Young also wants more concerts in the Music Bowl in order to improve the quality of life for the local population.
« I’m a local and have seen all of the changes that have taken place over the years and I think I can make change in a positive way, » said Ms. Laverty-Young.
Leyland Barnett is a local business owner with experience in the rural industry and real estate development. He has set himself the goal of expanding the Rockhampton region.
« I intend to put an interest rate freeze on for the first year so people can get back on their feet after this COVID virus, » he said.
Mr Barnett said he wanted to cut legal and consulting costs in order to attract more big industry to the region.
Mr Barnett has run twice for the Council and said he wants to improve intergenerational employment opportunities and apprenticeships.
« No growth means a recipe for disaster. We have to grow and not go backwards, « he said.
Shane Latcham is serving his first term as Division One Councilor for Rockhampton Regional Council.
Cr Latcham is a qualified teacher and has worked in a variety of industries including running a non-profit sports club in Rockhampton.
« Someone who listens to what the church wants and someone who can take everyone on the journey to make us a better region, » he said.
Cr Latcham said he wants to lower and offset water bills and access fees for businesses and residents.
This isn’t the first time Christian Shepherd has dived into politics as the Rockhampton candidate for Katter’s Australian party after the 2020 Queensland election.
« I have both a short-term vision for expanding the economy and a long-term vision for some major projects. «
In his election, Mr. Shepherd said he would reduce building permit fees and business tariffs to encourage more small businesses to open and make the area more attractive to move.
He said he was focused on promoting Rockhampton and wanted to make sure the city councils treat their departments like companies.
« I know how to watch spending with money, and when I want to get something done I get in and do it. I don’t screw it up, « he said.
« I really would love to see local businesses get a little boost and reach their full potential, » said McCamley.
With plans to expand Rockhampton’s tourism industry, McCamley said he would prioritize increasing flights from other regions.
With strong family ties to central Queensland, the McCamleys have raised cattle in the area for generations.
« My grandfather Sir Graham McCamley once told me that the best fertilizer is a farmer’s footprint, » he said.
Donna Kirkland was elected to represent Division Seven in the 2020 local council elections. Your portfolio consists of water and supporting a better environment.
Cr Kirkland, a dedicated volunteer and business owner, has turned the management over to her husband and daughter to focus on their new roles.
Cr Kirkland said she had always aspired to be mayor and wanted to give Rockhampton a leader with council experience.
« I have really strong, sensible guidelines on financial management that I’m going to bring to the council table, obviously I’ve already really cut my teeth at a very difficult time, » she said.
Cherie Rutherford has been a Rockhampton Councilor for 16 years and Deputy Mayor for four years.
« I’m running for mayor because I love this region. It is my home. I want it to keep thriving and thriving, « she said.
Cr Rutherford said as mayor she would consolidate investment in industries that would create jobs and infrastructure, and increase community consultation.
Rob Crow said he understood how councils work after working with Livingstone Shire Council for seven years.
« I think it’s the most livable area in the world. I’ll even say I love it so much, « he said.
The economic and professional development of the area would be high on Mr. Crow’s agenda. He plans to motivate the region for large-scale industry and promote sports tourism.
« There is no better person I think could be mayor than an actual parishioner who wants to bring the community back to the council, » he said.
Combating security and crime is a priority for Mr. Davies as he works with the Neighborhood Watch community and associations to develop security strategies.
He said he will work to bring industrial and manufacturing opportunities to the area, with a particular focus on the loss of business in the Rockhampton CBD.
John Rewald has given up his usual appointment as minister of church to promote the office of mayor.
As CEO, Mr. Rewald said he was financially savvy and wanted to develop housing and maintain sewage, water and waste disposal.
« Such things are important in order to establish ourselves in the long term, » said Rewald.
« I have a passion for my city and I love it and I want to keep seeing that it is healthy and growing – from the elderly to the young. «
Brett Williams ran for mayor 24 years ago and has been a finance manager with Barcoo Shire Council since then.
Mr. Williams was born in Mount Morgan and raised in Rockhampton. He owes his upbringing to his enthusiasm for the region.
« I understand the local government and want things to change for the better, » he said.
Mr. Williams said if he were successful, his focus as mayor would be on « getting the little things right ».
« The roads, the water, and the sewers are going back to basics, and that’s exactly what works, » he said.
« There are obviously some shortcomings here that make our region not necessarily desirable for our young people to continue to live, » said Ms. Broadbent.
Her priorities include revitalizing the north side of the river with a family-friendly water park, as well as introducing a green household trash can.
« I am someone who considers Rockhampton to be the place I live, the place my children and grandchildren should be happy, » she said.
Rockhampton-born Hooper is a climate activist and describes himself as an « all-rounder » after working as a bank clerk, cleaner, railroad fireman and train driver.
« If everyone is on a team, it’s fine. But everyone has to be on the same path. «
She described herself as « fanatical » about financial management and wanted the council to « spend responsibly and make sure we cover what the community needs ». .
« The biggest focus for me is making sure we offer high quality, affordable, reliable services and that we have better engagement in the community, » said Ms. Johnson.
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AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time, 10 hours before GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)
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