Getting to know Maggie May

Kyogle Council, Maggie May, Eden Creek, not declared

Tell us about where you live and your family.
I moved with my partner Kev and daughter Lauren to our property in 2010.  We built our home over the next five years while also working. We love the Northern Rivers and its natural beauty as well as the diverse and vibrant community.
If you’ve been a councillor – what are you most proud of in your previous term?
I was elected to council in 2016. I am very proud of many things we have achieved  particularly that we have worked so constructively together even though we come from a wide range of different backgrounds and viewpoints.
I am particularly proud of the work the council is doing on climate change,  we committed to achieving 100% renewables in electricity by 2030 and are now well on the way to achieving that goal.
We formed a climate change working group in 2020 to assist in directing councils work to adapt and address the challenges that we will face in coming years.  Council is also developing emergency response groups in each town and village to ensure that we have trained responders when situations arise, as they have done every year,  whether that be flood, fire, drought or heatwave.
We have also delivered some of the biggest budgets in Council history with funding for major road upgrades including Afterlee Road and have replaced over 125 bridges with funding for 82 more in the next couple of years.  Council is providing training for young people and a huge amount of employment for locals in our community.
What do you bring to the role of councillor this election?
I have gained a huge amount of knowledge over the last five years in terms of local government process and understanding local government policy.
There is a steep learning curve when first coming into the role but I think I have acquired a lot of knowledge in that time that will allow me to serve the community effectively in this term.
I have a degree in sociology and politics, a Masters and PhD in HRM and Employment.  I taught in the business schools of all three major universities in Brisbane for a decade and ran a business consultancy.
I have extensive experience in business, managing budgets and employment relations.  I have had 30 years experience in working for environmental action to address climate change and preserve biodiversity.  I currently chair the Kyogle Council Climate Change Working Group.
What brings you joy in life?
My grandchildren are a particular joy to me, we have four grandies aged 13 – 3 and our third daughter is due with her first on Christmas Eve.  Nothing beats being a nanna,  it’s a special joy that makes all the hard work of parenting worthwhile.
I also love my farm. We have a paddock of pecan nut trees and extensive fruit trees and vegie gardens.  I am hoping it will one day be a fruit forest for the grandchildren to enjoy.
What difficulties does your community face?
Kyogle LGA is one of the poorest in NSW.
We are in the top ten for child poverty and domestic violence per head of population.   This is often a hidden problem but affects people from all walks of life.
We are also facing housing stress for everyone who wants to live in our beautiful region.
As a council we have done some things to try to encourage affordable development including making smaller lot sizes available in Kyogle and waiving some developer fees.
However, we need to do more and work with all levels of government, community organisations and developers to provide affordable housing for all those who need it.
We are also facing a range of climate change factors including increased risk of flooding due to intense rainfall events,  increased extreme weather such as drought and heatwave.
And of course, bushfires as we experienced in both 2018/19 and 2019/20 where loss of property and habitat was widespread.  We are in a climate emergency and all levels of government, including local government, need to work together to protect biodiversity and the people who live here.
What is your job? What do you like/dislike about it?
I work in the NDIS system as a Support Coordinator.  I love working with people with disabilities, their families and carers.  I value and respect the work done by carers and the struggles that people with disabilities have to be recognised and valued in our community.
It is disappointing and frustrating that there are still so many barriers for people who want to participate in community,  even down to simple access to facilities and buildings.
We need to work harder on ensuring we have good access for everyone, regardless of their mobility and capacity.
Dare to dream – what is your vision for your region?
I would like Kyogle to be the jewel in the crown of the Northern Rivers.  We have amazing biodiversity and World Heritage areas at Toonumbar and Border Ranges.
I would like for us to be seen as a clean and green food bowl, which we are well on the way to achieving with so many growers and producers working in regenerative and sustainable agriculture.
We need to continue to encourage value adding to our primary products with small food and craft industries that build on the amazing creative community we already enjoy.
I would like Kyogle to increase our sustainable timber industry, planting and sustainably harvesting native timbers as we did for many generations in the past.
I’d like to see more investment in our National Parks to ensure accessibility and management of weeds and feral animals.
I hope that we can transition to a local low carbon economy and take advantage of the great advances in technology such as microgrids and extensive solar, wind and geothermal facilities.
I would like Kyogle to be seen as destination for people who want to experience a pristine environment with clean water, air and forests to connect with nature.

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