The next council elections are just around the corner and candidates are announcing their nominations for a seat on Latrobe City Council. Express journalist Emma Watson continues to speak with candidates who have put their name forward to find out why they are running. The Victorian local government elections are scheduled for Saturday, 22 October this year. It is compulsory to vote.
Tracie Lund | Central Ward
Mother-of-three Tracie Lund says she is passionate about the Latrobe Valley and believes the character of its people is a strength for the region.
The 43 year-old moved to the area in 2011 with her family and in that time has been awed by the community's resilience and pride of place.
"Everybody that I talk to really loves the Valley; they're passionate about it and they're driven to see great things happen here and a future for their families," Ms Lund said.
"I think that's something you don't get everywhere."
Ms Lund is vying for a seat on Latrobe City Council to represent the Central Ward, which encompasses Morwell and Yallourn North, in this year's local government election. She hopes to provide "effective representation that's reflective and accessible".
She says she has done a lot of work in and around Morwell and the broader Latrobe Valley throughout her time at the Morwell Neighbourhood House.
And through that work, she believes she has demonstrated an ability to work with all levels of government and people from all cross-sections of the community.
"I am certainly driven by what I see everyday at the neighbourhood house in terms of my interaction with people in the community," Ms Lund said.
"I'm inspired by that and if the community feels I can effectively represent them, then I feel that maybe I should have a go."
For the Traralgon resident, strong and balanced leadership is the key to being a good councillor.
If elected, she hopes to enhance the Valley's skills and industries while ensuring there's a "commitment to secure a strong, healthy and viable future".
She believes Latrobe City's work with the region's timber industry and its "considered effort" to consult the community are positive initiatives of recent times.
In looking forward, she hopes the council can build on that consultation, having noticed the community often has solutions to its own problems.
"But quite often, their solutions are dismissed or not brought into the fold properly," Ms Lund said.
"I think the current round of community consultation that you're seeing is starting to see people contribute and we really need to strengthen that space." Ms Lund said the most important aspect of council was about ensuring everyone's voice was heard and not rule anything out of the equation.
She said regardless of who was elected in 2016, if the best interests of the community were the main priority, there would be really great outcomes for all.
Guss Lambden | West Ward
Forty-five year-old Guss Lambden says his heart belongs in the Latrobe Valley.
When you ask the State Government employee why he's running for a seat on Latrobe City Council's West Ward, he says much can be done to improve the region.
"I guess the two words I've been thinking of a lot lately are reinvigorate or revitalise," Mr Lambden said.
"I think that's a big thing we need to do - we've got a lovely region, we just need to market and put ourselves out there."
Mr Lambden pointed to the recent Mildura tourism campaign that appeared on commercial television to promote the region's strongpoints.
"We need to look at those ideas to bring money to the local economy," he said.
Mr Lambden said establishing the Latrobe City headquarters in Morwell and working on the Moe Railway Revitalisation Project were standout moves in recent times.
Looking forward, marketing the region's produce - such as meat, wine and cheese - and introducing new industries, were among the changes he would like to see.
Renewable energy, education and jobs, and a reengagement of youth were other key factors Mr Lambden believed should be a focus of the next council.
"I think the whole region needs to work together as a whole," Mr Lambden said.
"It shouldn't really matter whether you come from your Moes, your Morwells, your Traralgons, your Boolarras and all the outer regions, we all need to pitch in and make it good for the entire community."
The Moe resident grew up in the Valley and only left the area when he joined the military in 1996.
Eight years later, he moved to Cairns where he lived for another eight years, before returning home four years ago.
Mr Lambden said a decent councillor should have honesty, integrity and transparency, who ensured any promises made would be fulfilled.
He said he was able to "relate to people from all socio economic backgrounds" and could therefore represent the broader Latrobe Valley community.
In highlighting the Valley's strengths, Mr Lambden spoke about the area's inclusive, multicultural society that he hoped to build upon.
"There are so many countries that are represented and have thrived in the Latrobe Valley in the past and there's no reason these people can't set up a terrific life for themselves in the Valley," he said.