IN this next instalment of local election coverage, we introduce some of the other candidates running for local office in the Central Highlands Regional Council.
FOR the past 12 years, Justin Howard has contemplated running for the Central Highlands Regional Council.
Now, at 38 years of age, he knows he is up to the challenge and feels he has the experience, education and knowledge to deliver a sustainable future for the region.
"I have always maintained a keen interest in local government and outcomes and how the decisions made by our local government representatives affect our community, our economy and our future," Mr Howard said.
The Gindie-based farmer, who lives on Galway Downs with his wife and four young children, said he was ready to step up and represent the people of the region he had spent his entire life in - barring three years at the University of Queensland where he studied agriculture.
Ensuring housing affordability, the planning and delivery of key infrastructure, lobbying for royalties, protecting the best cropping land and improving local roads are issues high on Mr Howard's list of priorities.
"I am young, enthusiastic and have a vision for achieving the best outcomes for all the residents of the Central Highlands Regional Council district," Mr Howard said.
He is an active member of AgForce and over a period of several years was a member of a Growers Consultative Group for the Australian Wheat Board.
He has played, coached and been involved in various sporting groups within the region and is a qualified junior rugby league coach for both local and representative teams.
"I am committed to ensuring that the council actively investigate all possible options for affordable housing for residents in the region who are currently struggling to afford the exorbitant rental prices, especially our ageing community, apprentices, lower wage earners and working families," Mr Howard said.
"I will strive to ensure the community are encouraged to express their ideas and initiatives for our key infrastructure needs.
"I ensure that as a councillor I will be a strong voice within the council for residents' issues and concerns.
"I'm ready to make positive changes for a positive, progressive and sustainable future for our region.
"My entire life has been spent living and working in the Central Highlands... We have four children who attend school and kindergarten in Emerald."
"I am young, enthusiastic and have a vision for achieving the best outcomes..."
THE CENTRAL Highlands Regional Council is a major organisational business with a huge debt.
As a voter you have the power to elect council representatives based not on how long they have lived in the region or that they have spent the past 10 to 15 years sitting on the council.
No, you can make a conscious decision to elect a councillor with the skill sets that are needed to manage a major business and someone with a history of community interaction.
I am that candidate. I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree with majors in Sociology and Welfare as well as a Masters Degree in Management (HR).
Experience is needed within the rakes of council, but so is change, fresh ideas and passion.
Change within any organisation is common and encourages the development of progressive ideas and actions. Change within the ranks of the Central Highlands Regional Council is fundamental to the continued growth and long-term sustainability of our region.
It is the question about whether the Central Highlands Regional Council moves forwards or backwards.
For many years I have volunteered my services to the management of the Central Highlands Science Centre, a non-profit organisation and a valuable resource for the children in our region.
I am an executive member of the Employment, Education, Training Advisory Network (ETAN Inc) that provides information and advice to industry, educational institutions and employment bodies.
I have recently been appointed to the CHRRUP Board as the director for higher education.
I have worked closely with the Central Highlands Development Corporation on a number of projects to explore ways to ease the shortage of skilled labour and accommodation issues in our region.
I am very aware of the effects of the rapid resource boom and the associated stress in the rural sector.
The time is now right for me to nominate as a councillor because my children have both left home and I am reducing my workload with the university, an indication of my commitment to the role of councillor.
It is not about what I will do when elected; it is about what you want me to do.
I have the education to understand complicated documents and to debate complex issues and I will assure you that I will not be intimidated into bad decision-making.
"It is not about what I will do when elected; it is about what you want me to do."
CENTRAL Highlands council candidate Peter Maundrell is calling on voters to produce a fresh and representative council on April 28.
"This is crunch-time for the Central Highlands," Mr Maundrell said.
"The decisions that we get wrong or right in this next term of council will dictate the fate of the Central Highlands for the next two decades.
"Will we use the boom to better ourselves or will we be ruined by it?"
It is a question Mr Maundrell has committed himself to answering by talking and engaging with constituents across the region.
From these discussions, he has found the biggest issue is housing.
He said the failure to address affordable housing options for non-mine workers risked the region's economic diversity and survival.
"Blackwater is fighting a desperate rearguard action," he said.
"Springsure will be servicing around five coal projects in a couple of years.
"While Emerald has fared a little better, it still has a chronic shortage of every type of housing.
"(The) council needs to put workable arrangements in place to allow small business access to affordable housing for their staff."
Mr Maundrell levelled criticism at the current council for not taking advantage of the National Rental Affordability Scheme, and said incoming councillors needed to "lift our game" in solving issues such as reducing traffic congestion, looking at flood security - including raising bridges, supporting local businesses, looking at animal pound services, grey nomad accommodation, retirement village housing and childcare places.
"If we don't fight for our region, we will see it stripped bare," he said.
"We need to investigate the rating system to ensure that all residents, whether rural, local or otherwise, are getting the services they are being charged for."
PASSIONATE Blackwater campaigner Lester Anderson says it is time he took his commitment to the community one step further - to the Central Highlands Regional Council.
Mr Anderson's association with the region began after returning from active service in Vietnam.
Through working in the mining industry, he learned the importance of safety in the resource sector.
"In 1987, just prior to the Moura disaster, I joined Queensland Mines rescue as an instructor and later became superintendent - a position I held for 14 years," Mr Anderson said.
In that capacity, he co-wrote the mines rescue training manual for both open-cut and underground operations rescue.
"I also participated in the development of rescue equipment that is still used today," he said.
"Because of this experience, I was selected by the State Government to be on the implementation committee which was responsible for implementing all 25 warden's recommendations following the Moura Number 2 disaster."
Mr Anderson is currently the Cook Colliery deputy.
Despite the workload, he has managed to devote valuable time to the Blackwater community and sporting groups including tennis, basketball, bow hunters and local scouts group.
"I am passionate about many issues in this region including, but not limited to, affordable housing, health services, sewage, water and roads, location of single persons quarters, the airport, aged and respite care accommodation, maintaining rural road networks, rates, council transparency and consultation," he said.
"I care deeply about protecting our rural assets and I will insist that the council aggressively seek royalties that have been raised here and sees to their return to the region.
"I commit to communicating with all constituents, to address the issues closest to home, and ensure the fair distribution of funding across the entire 60,000sq km of the CHRC."
TO SOLVE any problem, you must become part of the solution.
This is Julie Currie's goal for Emerald if elected on April 28.
Julie has lived in the Central Highlands for 10 years with her husband, Gary, and two sons.
The family-orientated candidate is currently studying a Bachelor of Property majoring in economics, law, property and construction and believes that these new skills would be a huge advantage for her if elected.
As an active member of the community, Julie is the grants officer for the Emerald Tigers, the rugby league team that her husband also coaches.
She also volunteers at Emerald State School, is the secretary for the Lilyvale Rd Bus Committee and has done work for the Emerald Community Kindergarten.
Julie's oldest son has learning difficulties and, because of the difficulties she has faced, she would like to see more support from allied health professionals and assistance in the education system if elected.
"I have had the personal struggle of finding assistance within the Central Highlands region. I understand that we do have some facilities for these children, but waiting lists for assistance are quite long, which I have experienced myself," Julie said.
In past years, Julie has organised and housed specialists to come to Emerald to assist children with autism.
With the assistance of the local DSQ office, a clinic has been set up for specialists who travelled to Emerald to do therapy with the children in the Central Highlands.
Julie feels that rates are very high compared to other councils in Queensland and understands that affordable housing and liveability in the Central Highlands region is a big issue that needs to be dealt with.
"With the correct town planning and funding for affordable housing, we will be able to attract and recruit skilled workers to our community," she said.
"I am personally looking into this situation at the moment. Keeping the communities and families together is important to me."
Julie is determined to follow her motto and become part of the solution to resolve any issues involving the Central Highlands.
"I am privileged to have the opportunity to raise my children in the Central Highlands and would feel proud to represent the community," she said.