New candidate emerges in Fraser Coast's mayoral race
A FRESH face, a new perspective and a unifying voice is needed in the mix of the Fraser Coast Regional Council, according to Tony Pantlin - the latest person to put their hand up for mayor.
The Fraser Coast farmer publicly announced today his intention to run for mayor in the Fraser Coast by-election on May 5.
Talking to the Chronicle exclusively, Mr Pantlin said new blood was needed to unite the councillors and drive the region forward.
"We have a good team and a lot of councillors are doing a great job in their individual portfolios but as a team, they don't work that well together," Mr Pantlin said.
"We're like a pearl necklace, we've got all the pearls in a bag in our pocket but we just don't have the connectivity to turn them into a necklace."
Born and bred on the Fraser Coast, Mr Pantlin said he was determined to take on one of the major issues facing the region - unemployment.
"We're about 9 per cent general unemployment and approaching 28 per cent youth unemployment which is unacceptable," he said.
"Every town throughout Australia is trying to create jobs but why isn't it working for the Fraser Coast?"
Controversy has dogged the Fraser Coast council throughout the past two years with public bouts of infighting with eventually the State Government stepping in late last year.
The situation came to a head in February when Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe unceremoniously sacked former mayor Chris Loft for repeated acts of misconduct which triggered next month's by-election.
But Mr Pantlin said the lack of strong leadership has let down the Fraser Coast for longer than two years.
"There's been controversy for quite a long time and I've attended council meetings for years," he said.
"It's been a long-term issue for the Fraser Coast and I believe it comes down to poor leadership."
For now, Mr Pantlins main rival for the mayoral job will be Fraser Coast councillor Darren Everard, who announced his intention to run in mid-March.
Although it is suspected fellow councillor and current Acting Mayor George Seymour will announce his candidacy before the nomination cut off date later this month.
Mr Pantlin said he is determined to address the issues facing the Fraser Coast, the father of two said he is ready to put his "money where his mouth is" to ensure the job is done.
"To achieve that initially I'm going to put some of my own money into contributing to a training and development mayoral fund," he said.
"That way, we can encourage the development of our councillors."
If there was any money left, Mr Pantlin hoped to put it towards funding national advertising to attract more visitors to the Fraser Coast.
Mayors in previous years have been accused of forgetting about Maryborough, a fact Mr Pantlin did not shy away from.
The farmer said he considers himself a "Fraser Coast resident", and will fight for all corners of the region.
And although a proud member of the LNP, Mr Pantlin has vowed he would not implement any decisions associated with party politics.