Latrobe City candidates come forward

The next council elections will be held on 22 October and candidates are announcing their nominations for a seat on Latrobe City Council.

Candidates continue to come forward to tell The Express why they are running. It is compulsory to vote.

Extensive travel across Australia has taught Nathan O’Donnell the Latrobe Valley is where his heart is.

The Traralgon small business man grew up in the Valley before his family moved to New South Wales, where he lived and helped run a family business.

The now 39 year-old says his travel, where he “got to have a bit of a look outside” and saw how other places did things, encouraged him to start giving back and do things for his own community.

After stints in Merimbula and Orbost, Mr O’Donnell returned to the Valley in 2012 and opened a cafe  in Traralgon, which he sold, before travelling again “with an open mind”.

It was this trip that taught him “what a great area” the Latrobe Valley was, so he returned home, keen to settle in the region where he grew up.

“I am from here and put it this way, I couldn’t find anywhere else that measured up,” Mr O’Donnell said.

“I couldn’t see myself being happier or wanting to live more than in this area. All my family is here.

“My mum was born here in Traralgon and my dad was in business over in Moe for 35 years, so I guess it’s not surprising that you feel you want to come back to the area.”

Mr O’Donnell has decided to run for a seat on Latrobe City Council’s East Ward, determined to “make the community better”.

“It’s a great area, but it’s not perfect; if it was perfect, it wouldn’t be any fun trying to fix it, I don’t suppose,” he said.

He believes jobs should be the focus of local government.

“If you haven’t got reliable and sustainable employment, you can’t do anything else,” he said.

Effective delivery of local services and a respect for ratepayers’ money are other factors Mr O’Donnell believes are linchpins of council.

A decent councillor, he says, should be able to listen more than they talk and approach all issues with an open mind.

If elected he will use his experience behind the coffee machine where he came across people from all walks of life.

“I reckon the coffee machine is the greatest focus group you’re ever going to get,” he said.

“I’ve spent 15 years doing that, 15 years listening to the things on people’s minds – what they like, what they don’t like, what annoys them, what doesn’t annoy them.

“Listening to staff, listening to people who are working for you, they’re all skills that I think would be useful (in being a councillor).”

Mr O’Donnell is considering another venture in hospitality and says he’s running for council to ensure the local business sector’s going well.

He is prepared to “get in there and argue for the local community” as “that’s what it’s about”.

Moe businessman and community volunteer Brad Law has thrown his hat into the ring for the upcoming Latrobe City Council elections.

Mr Law will contest the West Ward seats in a bid to provide positive leadership and a commitment to progress and development for the Moe community.

He said he was motivated to run for council after becoming disillusioned with the current West Ward councillors, who he said lacked support for the new library and service centre project in Moe.

“As a community person, I found it incredibly frustrating to see the very people who were supposed to support Moe, trying to hold the town back,” Mr Law said. “Now is the time for a clear, positive vision for the future – not just for Moe, but for Latrobe City as a whole. And I believe I can help deliver that.

“I will certainly be committed to pushing for the next stages of the library and central business district project to be completed; and completed as soon as possible.”

Mr Law said his background in the building industry through his joinery business, which employs 17 people, would be of “enormous benefit” to council.

He said this gave him a sound understanding of where development was occurring and what was driving that development.

“The critical part as I see it is we need as much investment into the Latrobe City area as possible, whether government, corporate or private,” he said.

Mr Law has more than 35 years’ involvement in local sports groups as a volunteer in executive roles on committees at Moe Racing Club, Moe Football Netball Club, Central Gippsland Cricket League and Moe High and Erica cricket clubs.

“My community involvement gives me a great understanding of the importance of community engagement and how to do this well in order to meet the needs of varied groups and individuals,” Mr Law said.

He said with Gippsland’s high unemployment rate, council needed to work harmoniously and robustly as a team to find and facilitate opportunities for investment within the Latrobe City.

“The time has come for positive change, with a clear focus on rebuilding Latrobe City’s image and creating new strengths to lead us into the future. Our region has great potential, if only we harness it.”

Mr Law, 57, is married with two children and has spent his life living in the Moe area.

Latrobe City is divided into four wards – East, Central, West and South – with a total of nine councillors.

East Ward includes Toongabbie, Glengarry, Traralgon, Traralgon East, Traralgon South, Hazelwood North and Hazelwood South.

Central Ward takes in Maryvale, Morwell, Hazelwood and Yallourn North.

West Ward encompasses Newborough and Moe.

South Ward includes Churchill, Yinnar and Boolarra.