ROCHELLE Halstead of San Remo has put her hand up to run for Western Port Ward in the upcoming Bass Coast Shire Council election.
So, what are the main issues Rochelle’s running on? And how will she work with the community? The Sentinel-Times put those written questions, among others, to Rochelle.

Why did you decide to run for council?
My husband and I moved to San Remo several years ago and we love our new life on the Bass Coast. But as we walked every day with our Golden Retriever, I started to notice the small things – the state of local walking tracks, footpaths, parklands, roads – all those things that make a community a community.
Sometimes it’s the small things that make the greatest difference and often they are the things that get missed. The now derelict Giant Worm Complex on the Bass Highway is a perfect example of a property that brings down the whole community vision. It had me thinking about my experience and my ability to get in and do something.

What are the three main issues you’re running on?
Choosing just three reasons is difficult as I can see so many projects for the Western Port Ward. However, among those are:
Sensitive planning: The next 10-20 years will be incredibly important as the beautiful environment of the Bass Coast entices more people to visit and reside here. It is the region’s biggest asset. Bass Coast Shire has built its entire economy around it and it needs to be protected.
Encouraging environmentally-conscious businesses with the same vision for the region’s environmental future could be the key. This would also provide training and employment for our youth in highly desirable future industries and protect what we all love about living here. Sensitive planning will be crucial to the liveability of the area and it is so important to get it right.
Community connectedness: Following the devasting impact of COVID-19, getting our community back together through community programs, events, sporting clubs and the arts will not only be crucial for those who may have felt more isolated than ever, but incredibly important for our community’s mental health – especially for our vulnerable residents and young adults. Finding ways to support local small businesses who have also suffered terrible loss through the pandemic will be vital for a connected, healthy community.
Inclusion of our Waterline communities: There is a great deal of work required for the Waterline communities. Grantville is the largest shopping precinct, and with Corinella and Coronet Bay serviced by general stores, it would be the perfect location for a supermarket. The community has been advocating for this for some time. Grantville needs a strategic plan outlining a vision for its commercial growth and with Mitre 10 having recently closed, a plan is desperately needed. The drainage in Waterline communities is also inadequate. An example of this is the Coronet Bay Community Garden where there’s about 5cm of water pools around garden beds after rain. Sensitive streetscaping and landscaping of public places in consultation with residents is also required.
I have a huge amount of respect for the current Western Port Ward councillors and the work they have done over the last four years. However, in saying that, there are things that I would have done differently in their shoes, for example:
1. I would have chosen not to increase rates by 2 per cent in a year where our community and businesses have suffered so much during the toughest 6-12 months in Victorian history. Yes, this may have impacted on the capital works program but it is something that would have made a huge difference in a lot of people’s lives.
2. Although I strongly support the idea of a regional skate park, I was concerned the first choice was taking away public space in San Remo and after community uproar, the decision to change the location to Newhaven was rushed and not thought through well. When events are held at “regional” skate parks, they draw a huge crowd. I believe this site will be overwhelmed right at the bridge where traffic in peak times is already a huge problem, not to mention, Newhaven is home to many retirees and not a huge population of young people live there.

How will you work with the community given the restraints
as a result of COVID-19?
Ah, the wonders of technology. Many of us have had to adapt to working from home including Bass Coast Shire Council which is now live streaming its meetings. Applications such as Zoom allow for online meetings, and print media, social media, email, phone and letters keep lines of communication open. I am available through any of these options to discuss issues or answer questions with residents in my ward.

What’s your background?
My background is in office administration at an executive level. I have worked for the Parliament of Victoria and in 2003 was elected as a councillor for the City of Frankston, where I served as mayor in 2004.
I have worked for a variety of community organisations, boards and committees, including the Frankston Arts Centre Board of Management, South Eastern Integrated Transport Group, Green Wedge Environmental Task Force, and the Water Campaign Program, just to name a few.
I stepped away from public life when my husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness and focused on my two children, who are now young adults. After remarrying, I have assisted my husband in running our small business, Tides Bar and Grill located in Tooradin. We have chosen to call Bass Coast our home and I find myself with the experience and the ability to commit the time required to give back to our community.