COUNCIL CANDIDATES COME FORWARD
JOHN Atkinson became a councillor in what was arguably one of Whitsunday Regional Council’s most challenging times.
It was May, 2014, councillors were walking out of meetings, there was a near-riot at a council meeting moved to the Bowen PCYC to accommodate the record crowd and Division 2 councillor Kevin Collins had resigned.
Cr Atkinson won the resulting by-election and immediately walked into a situation where by his own admission “the atmosphere was not good”.
In fact the day he walked in was the start of the 2014–15 budget “and I was told council had run out of money – not an easy way to start”.
But Cr Atkinson wasn’t deterred and he’s putting up his hand for a second run.
“I’ve been in business for 30–40 years and I’ve been up plenty of dry galleys so I know how to stand up and fight,” he said.
In the past near-two years at the job, Cr Atkinson lists his achievements as helping to pay down council’s $10 million emergent loan, reducing the overall borrowings, fighting for the Whisper Bay boat ramp and restoring some sort of harmony to the boardroom table.
“It was quite simple really – I’d just talk to them and we’d all work together,” he said of his fellow councillors.
Cr Atkinson sees the major issues currently facing the region and his division as water shortage, traffic and of course rates.
“We only had a 2% increase this financial year and I’d certainly hope to keep our rates down because they’re expensive,” he said.
As for the contentious issue of building heights, Cr Atkinson said he was happy with the way he voted at the last council meeting of 2015 – for an amended version of the town plan with lower heights than the original draft.
“And I’m all for the airport (expansion) – 100%,” he said. “I think our airport’s the fastest growing in Queensland at the moment and that’s great.”
STANDING FIRM: Cr John Atkinson wants to retain his role.
Photo: Sharon Smallwood