4 March 2024

Candidates pitch leadership aspirations to Cook Shire voters

| Lyndon Keane
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Cook Shire councillor candidates are all smiles after giving their five-minute pitches to voters at PCYC Cooktown on 2 March, 2024. Photo: Lyndon Keane.

Community, integrity, resilience and growth were the common themes when about 250 Cook Shire voters turned out to meet the people aspiring to represent them for the next four years on 2 March, 2024.

With dozens more watching the event livestream, the three mayoral and 19 councillor candidates who have nominated to sit around the council boardroom table when the region heads to the polls in 11 days took to the stage to share their vision and credentials at the Meet Your Local Candidates forum.

Supporter fashion was difficult to miss, with a number of audience members adorned in T-shirts that left no doubt where their loyalties lay.

Outgoing Mayor Peter Scott described the candidate cohort as a “fantastic bunch” and offered some advice garnered during two decades of representing the Cook Shire community.

“You’ve got equal responsibility to everyone living in the shire,” he said, referencing the council’s mammoth 106,000 square kilometre footprint.

“Partnerships are absolutely essential.”

Cooktown Chamber of Commerce and Tourism president Russell Bowman echoed partnership sentiment and said collaboration between local government and business was critical to the region’s success.

READ ALSO Cook Shire mayoral candidates announce ambition for region

Outgoing Cook Shire Council Mayor offers some insights to candidates about public life before the forum begins at PCYC Cooktown on 2 March. Photo: Lyndon Keane.


“Council does not hold the monopoly on good ideas … it’s the goodwill of the people that should be enacted.” – Ian Murray

“The passion for the area really starts to bed into me the older I get … it’s what drives me and gives me the passion to give back to the community.” – Kenny Reid

“It is my vision to see community-led solutions where community involvement … is a key indicator of success.” – Robyn Holmes


Nash Snider

“I can promise you this – I will be a tireless advocate for the community, integrity and connection; these are not just words, they are guiding principles that shape my actions.”

Nick Davidson

“It is more about people and less about politics; it is about having the confidence of the community that you will be informed, measured and considered.”

Hongyu Feng

“My big [belief] is improvement of infrastructure, so you will see me running around talking to everyone about why infrastructure is so important, and how we can continue to have [that] infrastructure.”

Jeanne Masding

“What matters to you matters to me; I intend to address all things that matter to the community.”

Gregory Whittaker

“I will always do better for everyone, and will make myself available at any time.”

Stephanie Hook

“Our youth need a voice; they need someone they can relate to in council, and I intend to be that voice to help them and grow our community.”

Sam Godfrey-Roberts

“I’m not a yes man, a lot of people know that by now; if I don’t think the community’s being represented properly, I’ll challenge that.”

Sarah Martin

“I want to help shape how the shire moves forward without losing what we love about it [and] I don’t want to be elected by false promises that can’t be delivered by a single councillor at a local government level.”

Gavin Dear

“I was a cynical outsider [and] very happy to snipe; is it possible for us to be more assertive and push state and federal legislation for more local autonomy?”

About 250 Cook Shire electors converged on PCYC Cooktown on 2 March for the Meet Your Local Candidates forum. Photo: Lyndon Keane.

Dave Goode

“You’ll have a councillor who has good communication skills, 30 years working with communities … someone that will help the council make sound economic decisions that are in the best interests of ratepayers and the community.”

READ ALSO Cook Shire mayor calls time on 20 years of community representation

Marylin Morris

“I’ve really enjoyed being a councillor for the last four years; nothing has dimmed … I love representing my community and I will continue to do that if I’m elected again to represent my community.”

John Dessman

“I’m very committed to our people, our community and its liveability.”

Melinda Parker

“I’m not a yes person; I will spend a lot of my time educating people what can and can’t be done, and what my role on council would be if elected.”

Ross Logan

“There’s too much red tape; local government is the face-to-face level of government … yet it’s the most regulated; we’ve got to keep rocking the boat, because sooner or later, they’ve got to start listening.”

Justin Coventry

“I’m quite passionate about housing; I’ve had teachers and professionals here [in government-provided housing] … but the sad thing about it though is … those people over the years have wanted to invest in Cooktown, but it’s such a hard thing.”

Jayson Watkin

“If elected, the continual upgrade of the PDR will be on my agenda; it has a direct impact on the cost of living for every resident living north of the corrugations, and it needs to be addressed.”

Walter Moessner

“We need to go forward and make this shire better, and, if you vote for me, I’ll help make this shire better.”

Joy Marriott

“I would like Cook Shire, the elected representatives, to be on some of these committees when the state government is considering land tenure on cape York.”

Beau Peberdy (via prerecorded video)

“Because one of my priorities is conservation, I will not be supplying pamphlets or anything like that; I’ll just be going through word of mouth and social media.”

Mayoral candidates Ian Murray, Robyn Holmes and Kenny Reid catch up after sharing their respective leadership visions with Cook Shire voters on Saturday morning. Photo: Lyndon Keane.

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