Maria Suarez is the new Division 9 councillor. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily
Maria Suarez is the new Division 9 councillor. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily

Incoming councillor says mood shift must stay in mind

A PALPABLE shift in the community prior to the election is what Maria Suarez hopes her new councillor colleagues will keep at the forefront of their minds.

The mother-of-two and karate enthusiast won the race to replace retired Division 9 councillor Steve Robinson, just edging out senior detective Daren Edwards to claim a seat on the new Sunshine Coast Council.

She said she "absolutely" thought a message had been sent by the voting public, after a sitting councillor was rolled, another run to the wire and Mayor Mark Jamieson's first-preference vote tally slipping below 50 per cent.

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"I think all of the councillors, past and present, were well aware that there was a shift in mood in the community," Ms Suarez said.

She said it was vital the community was involved more in decision-making processes, and she hoped a more collaborative approach, drawing on the knowledge held by the public, could deliver better outcomes for the Coast.

The Sekisui House project at Yaroomba Beach proved a polarising topic for the community.
The Sekisui House project at Yaroomba Beach proved a polarising topic for the community.

An 11-year RAAF career has her well-prepared when it comes to teamwork, and she had no fear of a battle.

"I loved my time there," she said.

When her time in the air force ended, Ms Suarez studied a Bachelor of Business at the University of the Sunshine Coast, majoring in marketing and management.

Marketing the former Hyatt Coolum was one of the highlights of her career, before she focused on motherhood and working as a consultant.

It was her involvement with the Flight Path Forum which "basically consumed my life" that sparked Ms Suarez's desire to become a local councillor.

Ms Suarez got the appetite for representation as president of the Flight Path Forum.
Ms Suarez got the appetite for representation as president of the Flight Path Forum.

She pledged to lobby fellow councillors for a review of the Sekisui House approval at Yaroomba Beach, if a Planning and Environment Court decision didn't go the way of those fighting against the approval.

Ms Suarez said during doorknocking on the campaign trail, she'd been surprised with how hot a topic the Yaroomba Beach project had become, even in western suburbs of the division such as Bli Bli.

"It's being used as a case study across the Coast," she said.

The new town plan was high on her list of priorities, and the need to ensure the community of communities was maintained, as dense development did not suit everybody.

She said she would operate based on facts and processes, on the floor of council, and she hoped there would be no blocs formed and that all matters were assessed individually on their merits.

Division 9 candidate Maria Suarez makes a point to fellow candidate Daren Edwards at a Sunshine Coast Daily election forum.
Division 9 candidate Maria Suarez makes a point to fellow candidate Daren Edwards at a Sunshine Coast Daily election forum.

"Any team that has new players in it has a different dynamic," Ms Suarez said.

She said she'd continue to work with community groups in her new role, as she felt there was a wealth of knowledge within the region, which could help drive better decision-making.

She said she'd given some thought to the issue of finding a replacement CEO, and said in the current climate, her initial thoughts were to keep acting CEO Warren Bunker in place until the pandemic passed, and then undertake a recruitment process, but she said she needed to speak with other councillors and Mayor Mark Jamieson further about that.


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