Having lived all of my 61 years in South Gippsland, I am a passionate believer in the adage “we live in god’s own country” and this shines through in the majority of people I have met or been associated with over this time.

To have the coast on one side of us and the mountains on the other and with a climate that often changes daily, we are gifted to have had the opportunity to reside here. I have relished the opportunity to work and raise my family of four children with my wife Dianne in Leongatha as South Gippsland offers so much in employment, agriculture, schooling, tourism, sport, leisure, retail, industrial and space.

Recently a conversation with a council employee about the next step in my sometimes very busy volunteer life, led me to start thinking about putting my hand up to nominate for a councillor position in the South Gippsland Shire.

I followed this up with others and found that the majority of people’s expectation of being a councillor is to be passionate and involved in the local community, something that has driven me all my life. To look for and implement positive change which would provide better outcomes for those around us is what I have always believed.

Therefore, I am now stating that I will be nominating for a councillor position in the upcoming elections. I will be canvassing on the theme “taking the council to the people”, as strong relationships lead to informed knowledge and a trust of the people in shire positions. I will be doing my very best to have council make policy to assist the hundreds of volunteers in our shire, which in turn will ensure that all the different activities that our volunteers undertake have the support needed to keep them strong and vibrant.

The people who reside in our shire, deserve to feel that they are appreciated for what they achieve and will then happily put back into the infrastructure that makes strong communities.

With a small rate base, the South Gippsland Shire has the challenge of bringing more people to our region giving us the boost to our economy to create better infrastructure for all.

I believe we have the grounding to make this happen and just need to promote our region a lot more to the rest of the country for its liveability, strong agricultural offer and beautiful tourist destination.

Some of the groups I have been associated with over time are as follows: Stony Creek Football Netball Club (President 6 years, Secretary 4 years and Life member), Leongatha Basketball Association (President 6 years Life member, Leongatha Town Cricket Club (President 7 years Life member.), Alberton Football League (President 6 years), AFL Gippsland Commission (Chairman 1 year, board member 3 years), Saint Laurence O’Toole School: Inaugural President.

Saint Laurence O’Toole Parish Pastoral Council (Chairman, 2 years), Leongatha Little Athletics (President 2 years, Leongatha Secondary College Board of management, Shire Recreation Committee.

Currently: President, Leongatha & District Cricket Association, Vice-President Leongatha Football Netball Club.

I look forward to the challenge ahead and would relish the opportunity to discuss my nomination at any level.

John Schelling, Leongatha.