COUNCIL RACE: New candidate running for Division 5
A FAMILIAR face has returned for a second shot at a council seat, this time vying for the Division 5 spot.
Gary Simpson from Strathdickie ran for the Division 4 seat in the last council election and decided to throw his hat in the ring again this year, saying he wanted to continue to push for sustainable change in the region.
Mr Simpson has been a lifelong resident in the region and has held positions on both the Proserpine Canegrowers Association and Sugar Services Proserpine.
He said his experience on these boards as well as his time living and working in the area gave him a solid understanding of the region’s strengths and where improvements could be made.
“I’ve seen the place progress, you turn the clock back 20 or 30 years and you can see we’ve jumped ahead leaps and bounds,” he said.
“The sugar industry and some agricultural sectors have been up and down along the way but they’re still here and the tourism sector is just mind-blowing.
“As far as change goes, I’d just like to see the place progress the way it has and sustainable developments that are economically and environmentally friendly.
“They’ve got to have those two; the economics have to stack up as well as the environmental side of things.”
Mr Simpson said this sustainable development included looking at jobs for younger people in the region as well capitalising on the opportunities in the rural areas of the Whitsundays.
“Everyone grows up and when they want to find a job they have to go elsewhere,” he said.
“I’m not saying we can promise we can provide everything for everyone, but it’s a big shire and there’s lots of opportunities.
“I think in the tourism sector there’s a lot more to offer, it’s not just the islands and the reef.”
Mr Simpson hoped another area that could be developed would be stronger partnerships with incoming cruise ships and rural areas.
He said running bus tours to areas beyond Airlie Beach would show off the region and help put money back into the local economy.
“We live in the best place in the world,” he said.
“We’ve got plenty to offer, we just need to make it happen.”
The Division 5 seat was one of the more heavily impacted areas following the boundary changes in November last year with the addition of Hydeaway Bay, Dingo Beach and Cape Gloucester as well as several other areas from Division 2, 3 and 4.
However, Mr Simpson said he hoped his longstanding commitment to the region and experience in rural areas would equip him to work with the newly-added areas.
Mr Simpson was feeling more confident of his chances in this election and hoped his knowledge of the area would put him in good stead.
“I polled pretty well in 2016 and that gave me a good incentive to have a go again,” he said.
“I feel like I’ve got the experience to do well for Division 5 and the whole community and region.”
The Whitsunday Regional Council Election will take place on March 28.
Mr Simpson will be running for the seat currently held by Dave Clark, who announced he would also be recontesting the seat earlier this month.