Division 9 candidate Maria Suarez was victorious in her campaign for Division 9.
Division 9 candidate Maria Suarez was victorious in her campaign for Division 9.

Triumphant Suarez ready to ‘sink teeth’ into major issues

MARIA Suarez is "ecstatic" with her Division 9 victory, and is already keen to sink her teeth into a review of council's controversial Sekisui decision, COVID-19 relief and a number of environmental initiatives.

After more than two weeks, Ms Suarez said the preferential votes flowed well in her favour, placing her ahead of high-calibre candidates, including her number-one competitor Daren Edwards.

Ultimately, Ms Suarez put more than 1200 votes between herself and Mr Edwards, who conceded defeat in a Facebook post this morning.

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Ms Suarez said she was "ecstatic" that her grassroots campaign "led by the community" was a success, and said she was keen to get started.

"There are a lot of challenges I have initially highlighted I would like to get my teeth stuck into," she said.

"Council has to do a lot with the coronavirus in the immediate short term, it would be really good to understand the finances and whether or not council can offer any relief to residents and ratepayers during this time," she said.

Mr Edwards, who is Detective Senior Sergeant officer-in-charge of the Maroochydore Criminal Investigation Bureau, chalked up his first array into politics as a "life experience" and that he would "box on".

"I am proud, definitely. You do think, 'What could I have done differently?', but I gave it a good crack and had a lot of support," Mr Edwards said.

"I had a lot of support for my campaign too, new friends who offered to help.

"I spoke to Maria (Suarez) over the weekend and congratulated her. Then left a voicemail with her this morning to reiterate that."

Division 9 candidates Daren Edwards and Maria Suarez speak at a Sunshine Coast Daily election forum.
Division 9 candidates Daren Edwards and Maria Suarez speak at a Sunshine Coast Daily election forum.

Ms Suarez said another priority high on her agenda was a potential review of the former council's Sekisui decision depending on the Planning and Environment Court ruling.

"Obviously being more open and transparent and communication a lot better with the community is high on the agenda," she said.

"I have previously stated if the court ruling for Sekisui doesn't go in the community's favour I would ask council to review their decision on that project with the new council.

"The decision was only made with the old council as a six-to-five vote, so with the new council perhaps we can get a review, get a better outcome for the developer and the community.

"Obviously there's a lot of environmental initiatives, I would like to progress the Blue Heart Project which is smack bang in the middle of Division 9."

Ms Suarez said she would prefer to work within her division than be stuck in an office in City Hall, and hoped her fellow councillors would take the same approach to giving a voice to all community members.

"I am excited there is new blood in the council, but I am a little disappointed about the lack of diversity in the make-up of the new council," she said.

Maria Suarez wants new council to revoke the Sekisui resort approval if a court appeal fails.
Maria Suarez wants new council to revoke the Sekisui resort approval if a court appeal fails.

"We will be a very middle class, middle aged, caucasian cohort in the council," she said.

"Not a lot of young people, indigenous representatives, everyone is heterosexual, there's no new migrants, so these are people who make up our community.

"Having a very caucasian, middle-aged council needs people who will get out into the community and speak with those representative groups and make sure their voices are included in council decisions."

Ms Suarez said while she could not claim to be "super-diverse" herself, she came from a migrant family and had observed the challenges of friends of "all sorts of persuasions".

"While I can observe … to get a true voice you need to do more than a token effort with a single email or knowing your mate is indigenous and believing you understand their concerns based on a small sample."

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Ms Suarez congratulated her fellow candidates for their efforts and said her's was not an easy win.

"All the other candidates would have been a suitable choice and fortunately though I was the one who won the race," she said.

Mr Edwards said the doorknocking component of his campaign would prove valuable in his work in police.

"It was good to actually meet people face-to-face and talk to them, not as the person they see in the media, that will help me and make me more approachable," he said.

"They raised issues. Not just crime, traffic, safely. Those types of things are helpful."

He will spend the week catching up on police matters before officially returning to work next Monday,

"COVID-19 has put a lot of pressure on emergency services, so there are a few procedures to catch up on," he said.


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