Three women all motivated by a desire to make Cairns a better place to live will be part of a new-look Unity Team vying to win the Mayoralty and seven Council divisions at the March 28 election.
Joining Mayor Bob Manning and Unity’s four sitting Councillors Brett Moller (Division 1), John Schilling (Division 2), Max O’Halloran (Division 7) and Deputy Mayor Terry James (Division 4) in contesting the poll will be new faces:
- Senior project officer, mother of two and dedicated community volunteer Amy Eden will contest Division 5
- Business owner, mental health advocate and blogger Kristy Vallely will contest Division 6, and
- Business manager, community volunteer and sports afficionado Rhonda Coghlan will contest Division 8 (left vacant with the retirement of Unity Councillor Jessie Richardson).
Mayor Manning said the new recruits certainly had the runs on the board when it came to showing their determination, passion and commitment to the community.
“I feel so fortunate that women of the calibre of Amy, Kristy and Rhonda want to be part of forging a secure and prosperous future for Cairns and I know we will benefit as a team from their individual talents, and the ideas and experiences they bring to the table,” he said.
“With our track record of strong financial management, low rate rises and big annual capital works programs over the past two terms of office, Unity has demonstrated its ability to do the job and the community has reaped the benefits with new facilities and services.
“Having three new faces on our team will add even more value to our team which can only be better for Cairns, better for our residents.”
Division 5 candidate Amy Eden said she would never have envisaged running for local government a few years ago, but realised it was the most effective vehicle through which she could achieve real improvements in the every day lives of residents.
“Over the past several years I have put a lot of energy and effort into making better the lives of the people living in the “M” suburbs in particular through initiatives like the establishment of the Manoora Community Garden and the delivery of the 3MPride project, as well as numerous place-based events to bring the community together,” she said.
This has meant countless hours of volunteer work all whilst maintaining a successful full-time job as a senior project officer for the Queensland Government, and being a hands-on mum to two vibrant and active young children.
“If I have the honour of being elected as a councillor, I can really make a difference and do much more broader work within the whole community,” she said.
Division 6 candidate Kristy Vallely has created an impressive online presence through her The Imperfect Mum blog, She Means Business women’s empowerment organisation, and mental health advocacy group, leading her to be recently voted Far North Queensland’s most influential person by readers of The Cairns Post.
Her decision to run for Council was borne out of a desire to do more for her local community and had been brewing in her mind for some years.
“I want to do my bit for the place I call home, I’ve been a proud local of the Redlynch area for over 32 years. I am incredibly passionate about this region and feel like I can continue the amazing work of Linda Cooper,” Kristy said.
Similar to Linda I love to get things done and solving problems. I’m someone that deeply cares about all community members and I’m committed to making sure all voices are heard/represented.
“Having come from a family of business owners, I have a deep understanding and passion for buying and supporting local, so this will also be something that I will focus on continuing to foster that in the council.”
Candidate for Division 8 Rhonda Coghlan is no stranger to working in the community, having been involved with numerous community and sporting groups since she arrived in Cairns in 1992 including working with junior soccer, junior netball, Yorkeys Knob State School P&C, Cairns Junior Choral Society and also Junior Rugby League.
“I am the sort of person who will have a red hot crack at anything put before me,” she said.
“I hope that people will see the value I can bring to the table. I understand the need for growth in Cairns, the importance of assessing all development applications against sustainability criteria and the balancing act required to protect this beautiful tropical environment which is Cairns’ most valuable asset.
“If I am elected, I would make it a priority to continue with the Northern Beaches Leisure Trail, and particularly want to see the Machans Beach to Holloways Beach connection this year.
“It truly would be a privilege to be a voice for my community and become more involved at that grass-roots level of local government where you can bring about change that really makes a positive difference.”
NEW CANDIDATES’ BIOS
DIVISION 5 CANDIDATE AMY EDEN
“Almost a local”, Amy and her husband moved to Cairns in 2003 and have been here ever since.
Amy completed her Bachelor of Social Work from JCU Smithfield in 2008 and has more than 12 years’ experience developing, delivering and managing a broad range of programs and projects, with a strategic focus on increasing community engagement and participation in both government and non-government sectors.
Committed to working in the community, Amy has volunteered countless hours to establish and support Manoora Community Garden and deliver positive movement project 3MPride, all while maintaining a successful full-time job as a senior project officer for the Queensland Government, and being a hands-on mum to two vibrant and active young children alongside her husband.
Having secured almost $100,000 in funding to deliver numerous placed-based events in community with thousands attending, Amy has managed the production of several music videos written and sung by Indigenous youth that have gone viral and won awards, delivered mentoring and leadership workshops for youth, and built a large storage shed for the community garden.
Amy has been recognised for her leadership and commitment to the community, winning the Australian Institute of Management Cairns Community Leader (2017) award and the Cairns Business Women’s Club Volunteer of the Year (2017) award and was last year nominated and named a finalist of Cairns Regional Council’s 2019 Citizen of the Year awards.
A team player, Amy supports the work of others by sharing information, knowledge and resources, and displays initiative with a “roll-the-sleeves-up” approach to getting the job done. Guided by the mantra, “actions speak louder than words”, she has built a reputation as a doer – someone who gets things done.
DIVISION 6 CANDIDATE KRISTY VALLELY
Kristy is a proud local of the Redlynch area for over 32 years and is incredibly passionate about this region she calls home. She is a very active member of the business community, founding the well-known online community She Means Business Today along with organising and hosting many community events.
In 2011, Kristy established the online community The Imperfect Mum. Over the past 8 years, what began as a humble grass roots online support network, has grown to become globally recognised for the work it has done for families, helping an estimated 100,000 “imperfect mums” across several countries. In 2016, she was featured on 60 Minutes Australia for her work in this area.
Kristy’s roots are in the Redlynch and Freshwater community and run deep, having married into the Vallely family who were butchers in the area from 1925 to 2017 when the last butchery was sold.
Kristy and husband Ben have been together for over 26 years and have two children 11 and 13 who attend Redlynch State College. Kristy also sits on the Redlynch State College Council board.
Having come from a family of business owners, Kristy has a deep understanding and passion for buying and supporting local. She has managed the family-owned business Harleys – The Educational Super Store for over 26 years, and today it is one of the largest independently run educational retailers in Queensland.
Career highlights are: Voted the most influential person in FNQ as seen in The Cairns Post; Winner of Australian Entrepreneur award at Ausmumpreneur for “Making a Difference”; Winner of Cairns Regional Council Woman of the Year Award; and Named one of the most clickable woman in Australia by News Website Mamamia.
Kristy says she has never been afraid of hard work and getting in and getting the job done – and would welcome the opportunity to serve the Division 6 community as their elected representative.
DIVISION 8 CANDIDATE RHONDA COGHLAN
As a young mum Rhonda and husband Russell relocated their family of four to Cairns in 1992, settling in Yorkeys Knob where she resided for the next 20 years before moving to Smithfied.
From the outset while working full time and managing a young family, she was heavily committed to the local community, getting involved in Junior Soccer, Junior Netball, Yorkeys Knob State School P&C, Cairns Junior Choral Society and also Junior Rugby League.
This commitment to the community continues today. Rhonda is a proud and integral part of the Northern Pride operation. She has volunteered with the club for 11 years and was rewarded for her efforts with the “John O’Brien Club Person of the Year” for 2019.
Rhonda also participated in the Cairns to Cooktown Cardiac Challenge for the fourth time in 2019, with her team raising over $17,000 for the FNQ Hospital Foundation in 2019 and raising more than $40,000 over four years.
She is a member and graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and a member and Committee Member of Skal International Cairns. Rhonda is a proud supporter and member of the Cairns Chamber of Commerce and the Cairns Business Women’s Club.
Rhonda has worked in the finance industry for more than 25 years with 20 years at Suncorp Bank in various senior roles (Branch Manager, Financial Planner), and now works in the superannuation industry as a relationship manager/business development manager for one of the largest funds in the country.
Rhonda has a reputation for innovative ideas and having a “red hot crack”. Listening to every idea before making a decision and making it happen. She understands the need for growth in Cairns, the importance of assessing all development applications against sustainability criteria and the balancing act required to protect this beautiful tropical environment which is Cairns’ most valuable asset.
Rhonda is looking to have a say in the future of Cairns and wants to give the loudest voice to Division 8.
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