Ron’s ready for coun­cil chal­lenges

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

HE’S been a fa­mil­iar face at the Whit­sun­day PCYC and lo­cal Wild Ones group but now Ron Pet­ter­son wants to sit at the Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil ta­ble and rep­re­sent Divi­sion 2.

“I’m very pas­sion­ate about the area, I love the re­gion and I’m wor­ried about our youth,” he said, when asked what had mo­ti­vated him to stand.

A ded­i­cated hus­band and father, it’s Mr Pet­ter­son’s three sons Ri­ley, Cody, and TJ, cur­rently all at school, who have been a ma­jor part of his driv­ing force.

“I look at the town and I’m con­cerned,” he said.

“We’re grow­ing faster than the state av­er­age and we can’t sus­tain the pop­u­la­tion we’ve got be­cause there aren’t enough jobs, so I’m wor­ried my kids are go­ing to leave high school and there’ll be noth­ing for them here.”

Mr Pet­ter­son says now is the time to take steps to ad­dress this is­sue and cre­ate em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for the fu­ture.

“We can’t keep plod­ding along and hop­ing some­thing will hap­pen, be­cause it won’t,” he said.

On the sub­ject of the cur­rent coun­cil’s pro­posed draft town plan, Mr Pet­ter­son said he be­lieved in “sus­tain­able growth” and strik­ing a bal­ance be­tween main­tain­ing an aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing town­ship and al­low­ing de­vel­op­ers a chance at prof­itabil­ity “oth­er­wise they won’t in­vest”.

“And there has to be bal­ance on both sides,” he said.

“The ar­gu­ing has to stop.”

Mr Pet­ter­son is also a fan of the pro­posed Whit­sun­day Coast Air­port ex­pan­sion to in­ter­na­tional sta­tus.

“If we want to see more em­ploy­ment we need more tourism and be­ing able to ac­cess in­ter­na­tional tourists will give us that,” he said.

But it’s not all about look­ing out­wards, with Mr Pet­ter- son very much fo­cused on bring­ing the “grass roots” com­mu­nity back.

Speak­ing about the un­der­ly­ing con­trib­u­tors to the re­gion’s un­em­ploy­ment is­sue, such as men­tal health: “we need to solve the prob­lems, not just treat the symp­toms,” he said.

“And we need to start now.”

FAM­ILY FO­CUS: Ron Pet­ter­son wants the best for the next gen­er­a­tion of Whit­sun­day res­i­dents.

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