RACE HEATS UP: Mayoral candidate Paul Forst, George Seymour, Greg Schmidt, Tony Pantlin and Darren Everard at the Meet the Candidates forum at Arkarra Tea Gardens on Wednesday.
RACE HEATS UP: Mayoral candidate Paul Forst, George Seymour, Greg Schmidt, Tony Pantlin and Darren Everard at the Meet the Candidates forum at Arkarra Tea Gardens on Wednesday. Alistair Brightman

BY-ELECTION: Candidates face questions at Chamber forum

UNIFYING the council and tackling unemployment are some of the tough topics your mayoral hopefuls were quizzed on at their first public forum yesterday.

Five of the region's candidates, vying for your vote on May 5, met at Arkarra Tea Gardens Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce.

 

Candidates were asked about a range of issues from progressing the economy to how they would provide stability in the region.

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Here are some of the questions your candidates were asked.

If elected, what sort of mayor will you be?

Darren Everard: "I'll be an open mayor, open to communication from the public, a strategic mayor that thinks about where we're going, and inclusive, because the Fraser Coast is a big region and we as a council have to remember we've got other communities other than Hervey Bay and Maryborough.

"I'll be balanced with our approach to what we do, how we do it and when we do it.

"I'll also be respectful, to the community, business and council and councillors."

Tony Pantlin: "To identify the best mayor, we need to understand the problems we face. Largely the problems that have been identified in recent times have been associated with poor leadership.

"Respect is not spoken, but rather earned, and this will be my first port, we need to earn the respect back from the community and business community."

Greg Schmidt: "I have no requests for donations at all, I'm not attached to any contractors or any business owner or community member, to me it's a level playing field for everyone.

"I will represent every person on the Fraser Coast."

 

Chamber of Commerce breakfast with mayoral candidates - Greg Schmidt.
Chamber of Commerce breakfast with mayoral candidates - Greg Schmidt. Alistair Brightman

George Seymour: "When I was appointed as the acting mayor in mid February, I looked around and thought 'What do we need right now? What do we need in our leader? What does the council need?'

"I know what's required, and moving forward we need stability to ensure we can work with others in the region, other councils and businesses and organisations."

 

Chamber of Commerce breakfast with mayoral candidates - George Seymour.
Chamber of Commerce breakfast with mayoral candidates - George Seymour. Alistair Brightman

Paul Forst: "As the mayor, I'd endeavour to bring some cohesion to the council and with the help of councillors take the whole of the Fraser Coast up that road of growth and prosperity.

After the election, how would you work to unify what may still very well be a fractured and divided region?

Tony Pantlin: "I'll be a very proud and passionate mayor, what you see today and in the past will be me in the future.

"Growing the economy and progressing the community and businesses is number one for me.

"We need to address the issues around unemployment, underemployment and the social issues that come from that."

 

Chamber of Commerce breakfast with mayoral candidates - Tony Pantlin.
Chamber of Commerce breakfast with mayoral candidates - Tony Pantlin. Alistair Brightman

Greg Schmidt: "I'd like these last two years to be the last worst two years on the Fraser Coast.

"I'd like to reunite the Fraser Coast to avoid confrontations as per the last couple of years."

George Seymour: "We need a leader who is conciliatory, collaborative and has empathy for others.

"We need a leader who will unite the team, who can cooperate with anyone, and that will be my focus if elected.

"It's about what's needed right now, what's needed right into the future for the next two years."

Paul Forst: "If I come to the position of mayor, I come with a different way of looking at things but with a collaborative frame of mind.

"I hold no allegiance to anybody, I'm not beholding to anybody, I don't know a lot of businesspeople in the town or part of a political party, I'm a person that believes in making the Fraser Coast a better place for everybody to live in as well as myself and my family."

Darren Everard: "I'll be a respectful mayor, we need to unite the council and community and move forward.

"There's still transformational projects going on at council, we've got engagement and people coming to our region, and it's time to build on that.

"Because if we don't build on that, we're going to get left behind. I really look forward to that opportunity to lead a council and take the community with us."

 

Chamber of Commerce breakfast with mayoral candidates - Darren Everard.
Chamber of Commerce breakfast with mayoral candidates - Darren Everard. Alistair Brightman

With the region having a very high unemployment and youth unemployment through the roof, what do you plan to do about job creation?

Greg Schmidt: "I worked on a contract outside of Maryborough, they saved $1 million on traffic management and detoured south of Maryborough, that literally killed Tinana," Mr Schmidt said.

"There needs to be more joint venture contracts so there's not that many contractors going slow.

"I'd like to see the council take more of a stand on control of contracts."

George Seymour: "The number one priority for the council moving forward needs to be to become a professional organisation that is seen with respect across the community," Cr Seymour said.

"Two real possible growth areas for economic development are the university for the students, and retirement living, and that's to do with the climate and availability of land.

"By having more retirement villages we can effectively be the Florida of Australia, in terms of our climate, for retirees."

Paul Forst: "I hope contractors look local first, employ locals first and use the industries we already have here.

"If I'm lucky enough to be the mayor, I want to introduce sudden-death contracts to get around most of these cost blow-outs of capital works. You get a company that says it will cost a certain amount over a specific time period."

 

Chamber of Commerce breakfast with mayoral candidates - Paul Forst.
Chamber of Commerce breakfast with mayoral candidates - Paul Forst. Alistair Brightman

Darren Everard: "My message is we are the Fraser Coast, and we're open for business.

"The decision-makers in big business are looking all the time, and we have to be ready for them.

"As a council we need to be ready to take advantage of location and lifestyle, and upgrades to the Bruce Hwy, because the Fraser Coast is becoming closer to Brisbane."

Tony Pantlin: "Some of the big ticket issues I would advocate for include public hospital capacity, Bruce Hwy upgrades, water security for our agriculture and future residential security and the forestry and sugar industry.

"I would also promote the growth of the economy by inviting non-job hungry residents, businesses and entrepreneurs to the area.

"By non-job hungry, we won't be putting pressure on the job market."