What a win: final Sunshine Coast councillor locked in
THE new-look Sunshine Coast Council is locked in, with Winston Johnston beating nine other candidates to become Division 5 councillor.
The former Caloundra City councillor and lifelong Maleny resident will return to local government with a plan to put "big-ticket projects" on the backburner, hone in on COVID-19 support for residents and businesses, and advocate for a fair share of investment for communities west of the Bruce Hwy.
Cr Johnston said he had maintained his margin as preferences were divvied up, and the final count placed him about 540 votes ahead.
After his time on council, Cr Johnston returned to his general insurance business which he said he had built from a small operation to the third-largest general insurance brokerage in Queensland with operations in Maleny and Brisbane.
As he looked to the next four years, Cr Johnston believed he and his fellow councillors were about to enter a difficult time in office as he expected the impacts of COVID-19 would be felt for years.
He said to cope, some of the "big-ticket items" such as the $59.9 million Maroochydore City Hall, may have to be reconsidered in the immediate future.
"The council cannot afford to be doing big projects like that, in the next few years we are gong to have to look at how things are going," he said.
"Working through the COVID-19 circumstances is probably going to bring the various people who represent community on council closer together and is going to focus them a lot more.
"Less focus on individual wants and more focus on the community's benefit and the community's needs, and that can only be good."
Throughout his campaign, Cr Johnston said many constituents raised concerns that significant projects were very coast-centric, and those who lived west of the Bruce Hwy had not received the same focus and attention.
"One of the major things is that Division 5 has got more gravel roads than any division in the whole of the local authority," he said.
"It is something that I will be trying to encourage my fellow councillors to support: a more proactive and focused effort to get not all of those roads, but a lot of those roads bitumened, because many of them are school bus routes.
"And in 2020, we shouldn't have school bus routes that are gravel from a child safety point of view."
Cr Johnston said he was happy with his mix of colleagues who hailed from "various walks of life with a lot of experience", but had hoped more females would have joined the ranks.
"Having said that, you need people from different walks in life to give perspective and to give a reflection of the community," he said.
"If you have all business people or all people from a particular political belief or whatever the case might be, then you get a very narrow perspective."
Cr Johnston said he expected the council to meet in some capacity in the coming days.