Councillor returns and ready to roll

Plans on the table include improved roads, parks and sporting facilities

By Sonia Isaacs

ROAD upgrades, streetscaping and major recreational and ecological projects will be the focus for returning Division 5 Councillor, Winston Johnston OAM.
Cr Johnston said he was feeling enthusiastic and ready to hit the ground running after seeing off fierce competition from Greens candidate Tracy Burton and independent, Richard Bruinsma at the March 16 election.
Only 298 votes separated Cr Johnston (8,046) from Ms Burton (7748) after the official first vote count.
But following preferences, Cr Johnston was declared winner by 53.29 per cent (9,565 votes) to Ms Burton’s 46.71 per cent (8,384 votes).
Cr Johnston said while it had been an unexpectedly torrid battle, he was back to work and focused on key projects
“A key point of business will be to address the need for a significant number of gravel roads within the division requiring upgrades,” he said. “I’m hoping to get council to agree to a substantial increase in funding allocation for the bitumen roads in our area.”
“I also want to see a general improvement throughout the entire division of roads, streets, parks and lookouts and sporting facilities,” Cr Johnston said.
Plans on the table include the next stage of streetscaping for Maleny due to commence in July and the Mary Cairncross ecological park, which council is hoping to secure external funding for to kickstart the project.
He said he would be working closely with councillors to ensure he had support for important projects across the division.
Cr Johnston acknowledged that this time round the election campaign had been quite tough, and markedly different to his previous campaigns.
He said while he was extremely grateful for the support he had received from a large number of the community, he added that some elements of the campaign had been challenging.
“I was disappointed that this campaign was smeared with elements of hatred and nastiness that I’ve not previously come across before,” he said.
“Some of the online vitriol I found particularly concerning this time round.”
Cr Johnston said he felt there had been an aggressive use of misinformation, and questioned some tactics deployed by supporters of the other candidates as less than reasonable in his opinion.
“I think it’s disappointing when party politics come into a local council election,” he said.
“That’s not something I have been across previously.”
Cr Johnston said he was very grateful he had received the confidence of a significant portion of people who lived in the division.
“You have to understand as a councillor you serve not only the people who voted for you but also the people who voted for the other candidates,” he said.
“You have a duty to do that, but also you have a responsibility to vote on matters that hold the best interests of the entire Sunshine Coast regional council not just your own division.”
Cr Johnston said all of the towns within his division had specific requirements and he was looking forward to continuing to advocate on behalf of the community within his electorate over the coming four-year term.