November 30, 2023
South Burnett Acting Mayor Gavin Jones confirmed on Thursday he will be putting his hand up for the role of mayor at the March local government elections.
He is the fourth candidate to throw his hat into the ring, following disability advocate Rhonda Trivett, and fellow councillors Kirstie Schumacher and Kathy Duff.
Cr Jones, better known as “Spud”, said “what you see is what you get” with him.
“My record shows that I’m a ‘sleeves rolled-up bloke’ who does his best work working alongside others to get stuff done,” he said in his official announcement.
Cr Jones was first elected to the South Burnett Regional Council at the 2016 poll.
He was elected to Division 2, which covers Blackbutt, Maidenwell and parts of Nanango. At the time, he was coaching the Nanango Stags A Grade rugby league team, was publican at the Maidenwell Hotel and president of the Maidenwell Community Group.
He quickly settled into his Council role and was handed the politically difficult Roads portfolio.
Cr Jones was re-elected unopposed in 2020, and was appointed Deputy Mayor soon afterwards.
He assumed the role of Acting Mayor this year when Mayor Brett Otto was struck down by illness in July, and has filled the position ever since.
Now he would like to make the role official.
Acting Mayor Jones said the past eight years as a councillor had taught him the importance of getting the balance right between what ratepayers were able to afford and the services and infrastructure local government was responsible for delivering.
“The incoming mayor will have an important role in helping at least three new councillors find their feet under the Council table,” he said.
“I believe my positive leadership style learned from many years of being coached, and coaching sporting teams, will serve me well rebuilding a united council team.”
Since stepping up as Acting Mayor, his portfolio responsibilities have expanded from roads and infrastructure to include finance and information technology, plant and equipment, water and wastewater and more.
“I have enjoyed this opportunity and I am grateful for the support of Wendy, my wife, along with my family in stepping forward to serve as your Mayor,” he said.
Acting Mayor Jones said 2023 had been an especially rewarding year for him, working alongside councillors, community members and organisations to raise more than $100,000 for mental health initiatives and community improvements.
“This is off the back of helping lead and support fundraising events and initiatives over the past eight to 10 years where our South Burnett community has come together to raise over $500,000,” he said.
“Every time our region comes together around a common goal, we are able to show how strong we are in making sure we have the services and facilities our communities need and can be proud of.”
He said it had been an absolute honour as Acting Mayor to acknowledge the talented South Burnett council staff who were recently awarded State and National recognition for various projects.
“I am committed to continue working and functioning as a united team and support every town (to) build on their strengths and develop plans and projects that reflect their vision for the future,” Acting Mayor Jones said.
“It’s no surprise to you that councillors aren’t the smartest people in the room.
“We need to be best listeners and work positively and creatively as part of a talented team who all share the same goal for a stronger region.
“I pride myself in finding common ground on the many different proposals that come before councillors each year.
“I believe that my experience in finding common ground and prioritising the different needs of our towns and localities is the kind of leadership the South Burnett needs to best realise the opportunities and challenges ahead.”
He said it was no secret that during this term of Council there has been “division and factions”.
“I have been genuinely humbled by the number of people who have commented to me that since early August there has been a noticeable calm come over the South Burnett,” he said.
“It has been an honour to serve as the Acting Mayor for the last part of this term.
“This calm hasn’t come about because Council isn’t making any hard decisions. It has come about because I recognise that the most important job of a leader is to unite their team and put them in their positions of strength.
“I know this is what you expect of us. This is one of my commitments to you should you elect me as mayor in March 2024.
“I am committed to ensuring local government isn’t viewed as a circus. I am committed to focussing on local government being a valued partner in helping you achieve your business, industry, community, or individual goals.
“Ahead of the next Council are some difficult decisions to make about what the South Burnett region can afford.
“It will be no surprise to anyone that aiming to keep annual rate adjustments below CPI rate rises that have been hovering around 6 to 7 per cent for some time means that our region won’t be exempt from this wave catching up and causing some pain.
“My common sense and working together approach will be on your side in the coming years as we work hard to keep Council in our local government lane, focussed on those things important to you.
“My commitment for the next term is to ensure the South Burnett you love, is one you want to keep living in until the end of your days and like my personal experience, a region that has always paid it forward by investing in the next generation.
“We are already a strong region with diversity of industry and communities that are the envy of many. I’m committed to working alongside everyone to keep building on our strengths.”