DIVISION 8: Here are your council candidates

Gold Coast’s local council elections are coming up on the 28th of March, with over 50 people gunning for seats at chambers.

Early voting is now underway, with eleven places to vote open to locals from today.

myGC is going through division by division, to give you a closer look at the candidates.


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Division 8 includes the suburbs of Ashmore, Benowa, Carrara, Clear Island Waters, Merrimac and Nerang.

It’s currently held by Bob La Castra, who is running as a candidate this election.

He’s one of  three candidates for the seat, with Josh Smith and Matthew Armstrong also running.

myGC put some simple questions to the candidates, here’s how they responded.

Josh Smith

A few words about yourself.

Based on the Gold Coast for 31 years, this father of two operated an award-winning technology company before moving into a career as a high school Science & Technology teacher.

Are you a member of/ or affiliated with a political party – if so, which one?

No, and I never have been.

Please list your top three policies for your division.

  • I’ll move the divisional office back into the division, so that residents may readily access their councillor. Following this, I will investigate the feasibility of having a community hub created in the area, including a library, community event space, council service centre and co-working space, to more effectively link council to local businesses and individuals.
  • Increasing community consultation, online, in-person, and via the hosting of two “Town Hall”-style meetings each year, to ensure that my decisions represent the wishes of the people.
  • Protecting the functionality of the Merrimac / Carrara floodplains from irresponsible development, while advancing the “Green Heart” vision that would see much of the Merrimac plain converted into accessible recreation space for local families and visitors to enjoy.

Why should locals vote for you?

ABC – Action, Basics and Community. I’ll hit the ground running, delivering tangible services and results for the division by injecting fresh energy into the role. This will largely be focused on improving the delivery of basic council services, including rapid maintenance, enhancement of local parks, the extension of public walkways, the introduction of more shade cover over playgrounds and bus stops, and moving to address traffic bottlenecks. I’ll also attract more cultural and community events to the area to build a stronger sense of belonging.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest issue facing the whole of the Gold Coast? And what should Council as a whole be doing about it?

There are a number of significant issues affecting the Gold Coast, but one of the primary pain points is traffic congestion and parking. Recent development approvals have been made without sufficient consideration given to improving transportation infrastructure in advance. Council should abide more closely to its own City Plan, only approve developments that include appropriate amenity and infrastructure considerations, and must now retroactively address these shortfalls by pushing for enhanced public transportation links, encouraging active transportation and by urgently addressing traffic bottlenecks, to get the Gold Coast moving again.

Anything else you’d like to add?

In recent years, Division 8 has become the “Forgotten Division”, though we are the heart of the Gold Coast and the green behind the gold. The division requires a new representative to champion its re-invigoration over the next four years.

 

Matthew Armstrong

A few words about yourself.

Born and bred on the Gold Coast the lifestyle I was privileged to grow up with is sadly being eroded away. As a father of 4 the future of the Gold Coast is important to me and will strive to restore what the Gold Coast is renown for.

Are you a member of/ or affiliated with a political party – if so, which one?

Never been associated with any political party nor do I believe local government should be. It is about representing the needs of local communities and residents.

Please list your top three policies for your division.

  • Stronger Community Ownership – give communities the power to feel safer in their neighbourhoods and more control over what happens.
  • Responsible infrastructure and development – Better east to west public transport options, look after the floodplains from outlandish developments.
  • Stop the stink at Witt Ave and Merrimac floodplain.

Why should locals vote for you?

Because I will strive to be here for them and more importantly to hear them. I will do this through ‘community catch-ups’ sessions and regular town hall meetings across the division. This way I can be more informed when dealing with items during council meetings and to provide the services that the community are asking for.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest issue facing the whole of the Gold Coast? And what should Council as a whole be doing about it?

Transparency and accountability within the council and restore the community’s respect and trust regarding the action and motivation of the council. The council should have less closed meetings and provide locals more of an option when it comes to decisions in their neighbourhood. Which why I will provide that with my time on council along with my teaching background bring the strong ethics that is expected from educators.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Will work towards upgrading the visitor’s centre at the regional botanic gardens to make it a draw card for education, tourism and events in the heart of the Gold Coast.

 

Bob La Casta

A few words about yourself.

I’ve lived, worked and volunteered in the Division 8 community, for 38 years. I’m currently the third longest-serving Councillor in the City of Gold Coast Council.

Are you a member of/ or affiliated with a political party – if so, which one?

I’m a Liberal (but vehemently opposed to party politics in local government, as it’s about ‘community’).

Please list your top three policies for your division.

  • Getting frequent, Rapid Electric Bus, East/West connections (Nerang Railway Station, to Pacific Fair), in place, to feed the light rail network.
  • Getting the ‘Greenheart’ up and running, including the establishment of more, much-needed sporting fields in Division 8
  • Continuing to install measures to further protect the safety of local residents (more CCTV cameras, Speed Awareness Trailers, and drumming up local support for the establishment of even more Neighbourhood Watch Groups.

Why should locals vote for you?

Because the issues that affect local residents, affect me too, because I’m the only candidate who lives in Division 8. Above all, locals know what they’re getting with me, a proven, local, Councillor, who delivers.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest issue facing the whole of the Gold Coast? And what should Council as a whole be doing about it?

Keeping the biggest driver of our local economy pumping. Tourism is always a competitive and challenging industry, and it just became a whole lot tougher, with Coronavirus implications. Council should be continuing to support the tourism industry as a whole.

 

**Note: the candidates have been listed in the order that they will appear on the ballot paper on March 28.

For more information about voting, click here.

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Why is Sport & Leisure Centre at Carrara Not Open For Voting Myself And a Lot of Other People There But Nothing So Went Home Not Going to Bother Driving Around Looking For A Place to Vote Already Spent an Hour Driving Around Nerang