In driving seat for city
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