21 February 2024

Cook Shire mayoral candidates announce ambition for region

| Lyndon Keane
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Mayoral candidate Ian Murray (left), pictured with children Charlotte, 15, and Jack, 17, says Cook Shire Council needs to invest in keeping people and families local. Photo: Supplied.

Despite having embarked on remarkably different journeys to their nominations, the three candidates aiming to claim the top job at Cook Shire Council share a common goal: a stronger, successful community.

When the Electoral Commission of Queensland announced the final nomination list on 13 February, 2024, three Cook Shire residents – Robyn Holmes, Ian Murray and Kenny Reid – emerged as the ones who would campaign to replace long-serving Mayor Peter Scott.

After dedicating 20 years to the Cook Shire community, Mayor Scott confirmed earlier this month that the current council term would be his last.

Farmer Ian Murray, who operates a property on the Endeavour Valley Road, halfway between Cooktown and Hope Vale, said his main focus would be on bringing families to the region, and encouraging self-sufficiency and multigeneration associations with Cook Shire.

“My focus overall is families,” he explained.

“It’s the connection and investment in people and families.

“Obviously, we’ve got tourism and that up here, but I think homesteading and families are my focus.”

Mr Murray, who has also previously worked for the council and in community residential childcare, said he believed the key to developing the Cook Shire local government area was getting people to fall in love with the region, adding it would not be possible without adequate housing and employment opportunities.

“It’s the connection and investment in people and families,” he told Cape York Weekly.

“It’s a retention thing; if the children can’t stay and they have to move away to find somewhere to live or [gain] employment, it means our grandchildren will be away eventually as well.

“It’s about keeping families together.”

Cook Shire Council mayoral candidate Robyn Holmes (right) discusses the clean-up effort with Disaster Relief Australia’s Dianna George at the Ayton community barbecue on 15 February, 2024. Photo: Supplied.

Current Deputy Mayor Robyn Holmes will seek a third term representing the community and said she believed she could bring experience and leadership to what could be an extremely new-look council.

“I kind of feel as though it’s a new term, the current mayor’s not standing … so I think it’s a good opportunity to take the lead role,” she said on 14 February.

“I committed to it quite a few months ago, probably six months ago.

“It’s purely based on my desire to make the community a better place, and support continued employment growth and continued economic development.”

Ms Holmes said listening and responding to the voice of the Cook Shire community would be at the forefront of her leadership style if successful on 16 March.

“My approach is going to be that I want projects to be community led,” she said as she outlined her mayoral strategy.

“The basis of my leadership is that we are the trustees of public money; we need to listen to the community wants, and what the community need is.”

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

Kenny Reid is well known across Cape York through his business interests and said an eclectic professional background would allow him to bring an allrounder mindset to the council chamber.

He admitted the decision to run for mayor had not been taken lightly, but said he believed the strength of the council’s existing executive team was conducive to success for whomever replaced Mayor Scott.

“We’ve got to keep going with the good work council’s been doing,” he said.

“I’m not going to promise huge changes overnight.”

Mr Reid identified creating increased local education and employment options as significant priorities over the coming four-year term of local government.

“There’s just not a lot for young people to do [and] you don’t have the same options of what they do down in Cairns and Townsville.

“I want to focus on the early-to-late teen area to get more industry into town, more jobs.”

Economic development outside the traditional tourism sector is also likely to feature highly on the council agenda if Mr Reid tastes election success.

“Lakeland dam and stuff like that, trying to get Lakeland to develop some horticultural projects closer to Cooktown, to close that gap from Lakeland a bit,” Mr Reid said.

“I want to try to create industry away from tourism; obviously, that will always be a big part of it, but there’s a full range of things I think we can look at attracting.”

Voters will have the opportunity to meet the mayoral candidates, as well as the 19 individuals who will fight for the six vacant councillor seats, when Cook Shire Council hosts a Meet Your Local Candidates forum on 2 March, 2024.

Mayoral candidate Kenny Reid says Cook Shire needs to attract new industry, in addition to the existing tourism footprint of the region. Photo: Supplied.

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