In driv­ing seat for city

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She also notes the com­mit­tee’s sup­port for the cre­ation of Run­way Gee­long and in un­der­writ­ing the trial of a Melbourne to Gee­long ferry ser­vice by Port Phillip Fer­ries.

“It’s a tes­ta­ment to the com­mit­tee’s ag­ile ap­proach that the ferry trial was suc­cess­fully com­pleted in a very short time. Our ac­tion and sup­port re­sulted in a $16 mil­lion in­vest­ment into Gee­long,” Cas­son said.

She cites an­other ex­am­ple of Gee­long’s against them,” she said. The com­mit­tee’s v view was that Uber w was a global com­pany, of­fer­ing diver­sity of em­ploy­ment and b bring­ing ad­vanced dis­rup­tive tech­nol­ogy. “We were among the only ones who helped them . . . and we got mas­sively slammed for that,” she said. She says the com­mit­tee takes the hit “be­cause w we lift our head above the p para­pet”. “There were some things said about me and the com­mit­tee from var­i­ous in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions about our sup­port for Uber, and I called them out on that.” Cas­son is the ar­chi­tect of the com­mit­tee’s in­ter­na­tional re­search Win­ning from Sec­ond, which com­prises case stud­ies on sec­ond cities like Gee­long from around the world, and was un­der­taken in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the United Nations Global Com­pact Cities Pro­gram. The re­search has evolved into a pro­posed Sec­ond City Pol­icy Frame­work, which is a work in progress as the com­mit­tee tries to el­e­vate its gov­ern­ment ad­vo­cacy be­yond be­ing an­other voice with a fund­ing wish list.

The ap­proach re­flects Cas­son’s pref­er­ence to have ar­gu­ments based on em­pir­i­cal re­search but she notes with a tone of res­ig­na­tion that the term Sec­ond City has not been uni­ver­sally ap­plauded in parochial Gee­long.

While she takes pride in “chal­leng­ing the tide of con­ven­tion think­ing”, it is clear the buf­fet­ing she has ex­pe­ri­enced in do­ing so has taken a per­sonal toll.

That one of her most pub­lic crit­ics is the town’s lead­ing con­ser­va­tive voice in the form of for­mer mayor Dar­ryn Lyons re­in­forces how much the com­mit­tee has changed in six years.

But Cas­son has worn more than a few bruises from oth­ers along the way.

It is some­thing her suc­ces­sor will face, too.

“You need a great deal of re­silience and per­sis­tence in these types of po­si­tions,” she said.

“The enor­mity of the role doesn’t sink in for a while.”

That the knocks have come equally from both sides of pol­i­tics she wears as a badge of hon­our.

“While at times I have been frus­trated with some as­pects of Gee­long that I be­lieve are still hold­ing the city back, I have very much en­joyed my time work­ing at the com­mit­tee,” she says.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing as the Com­mit­tee for Gee­long’s CEO on Fri­day, Cas­son is set to be­come the first fe­male CEO of the Vic­to­rian Masters Builders As­so­ci­a­tion in its 143year his­tory.

Frank Costa Dan Sim­monds

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