Opportunities post COVID-19 to encourage more people to live and work in Corangamite Shire, through better digital connection, is part of the platform on which Cr Ruth Gstrein is standing for reelection to the Central Ward.
Cr Gstrein has also cited the importance of social reconnection in the wake of COVID-19 through community and sporting groups and business networks to help protect and restore the mental health and wellbeing of the Corangamite Shire community.
Cr Gstrein was first elected in 2002 and has served five terms on the Council. She said standing for her sixth term was an easy decision, especially in light of Coronavirus and her passion to help the community and economy bounce back.
“Obviously this year has been like no other in many ways and Council’s prudent financial management will be more important than ever,” she said.
“We know there will be reduced grant monies available and we will need to be very focused and strategic to get cut through and secure our fair share.
“I’m not surprised though that many in our community remain positive. We are a resilient community and I believe there are opportunities post COVID-19 to strengthen the Shire.
Cr Gstrein said a potential positive from the Coronavirus pandemic was the arrest of annual population decline in regional areas like Corangamite Shire. She said many city-based people now realised they could work from home, which opened up a regional lifestyle opportunity they may otherwise have not considered.
“Digital connection is the key to unlocking this opportunity and advocating for improved fixed and mobile internet access across local black spots is critical,” she said.
“If we can support new business and industries to live, work and invest in Corangamite Shire and also work with our existing retailers and service providers then we can move forward with great confidence and optimism for the local economy and provision of new jobs.
“More than ever, we need to have a ‘whole of community’ and ‘everyone matters’ mindset…as evidenced by the recently adopted Youth Strategy and Disability Access Inclusion Plan.”
Cr Gstrein said she had a proven track record getting things done in Terang, Camperdown, Noorat and the surrounding Central Ward area as well as other Council wards.
“I’m looking forward to the construction of the footpath on the Cobden-Camperdown Road from Bowen Street to Fenton Street which will complete a loop that will be heavily used and contribute to the health and wellbeing of all ages,” she said.
“It’s important that we maintain and improve, where necessary, over 100 services that Council provides to its residents from the start of life to the very end.
“We have had some positive outcomes with the state’s arterial road network, but a whole lot more needs to be done.
“I’m as passionate and motivated as ever to continue working for our community to protect our lifestyle, improve our assets and services and drive our economy forward.”
Cr Gstrein is the current deputy president of the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and is the Victorian director of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).
She is an owner of catering company Rustic Tarts Food, works part time as the office manager at Bostocks Creek Design and Drafting and has two children with husband Peter.