Council candidate’s heart is in the right place

RURAL STATE OF MIND: Jess Jennings of The Lagoon will run as a candidate in September's Bathurst Regional Council election. 	042612pjesse2
RURAL STATE OF MIND: Jess Jennings of The Lagoon will run as a candidate in September's Bathurst Regional Council election. 042612pjesse2

Jess Jennings has worked in agriculture- related fields for most of his career and now he is hoping to capture the rural vote at September’s local government election.

Although he has spent most of his life in Glebe, he said his heart has always been in the bush.

His grandparents came to Bathurst as migrants in 1950 and settled here.

Mr Jennings, who was born in Bathurst Base Hospital, said he has a connection to Bathurst through friends and family. Because he is addicted to horse riding and family life he moved to The Lagoon about five years ago.

He said that while he now has around a dozen cows he is on the verge of becoming a “proper farmer”.

He is now working as a private consultant in agriculture and natural resource management.

He has worked for Dairy Australia and Dairy NSW.

His job is to find funds, resources and technical expertise for his clients – skills he believes will be of great benefit on Bathurst Regional Council.

Mr Jennings said he has been involved with a few local community groups and gets great satisfaction from seeing something result from his hard work.

He is a founding director of the Bathurst Whole Foods Co-operative, which has a strong emphasis on local food for local people.

At 40, Mr Jennings has a 10-year-old son, Harrison, and a fiancee, local musical identity Kate Smith.

He said it is too early to say if he will run on a ticket.

Mr Jennings said he is affiliated with the ALP but then he is affiliated with a lot of groups. “There is no real place on council for party politics,” he said.

Core community services, economic development and the city’s regional profile are among the key issues facing council according to Mr Jennings.

“For instance, Bathurst should see itself as a gateway to the Central West wine region,” he said.

“It needs to make the most of every opportunity to position itself in that kind of role.

“The planned bicentennial activities also give us the chance to be recognised across Australia.”

Mr Jennings said he has joined the Bathurst Business Chamber and gained a sense of what small business needs, adding that the National Broadband Network is a must for this area.

He said water security must also be a key issue for council going forward.

“Council has to deliver rates, roads and rubbish but beyond that must look out for the community,” Mr Jennings said.

“A council’s strength is its willingness to engage its community. In that sense councils do have to lead their communities in a positive direction.

“The role of a councillor is to listen to the community and come up with ideas and policies that progress ideas and then argue that case in the chamber. You need to put yourself in the other person’s shoes for a while.

“Councillors should be prepared to take the broad view, otherwise they are just pushing their own agenda.”

Mr Jennings said the make-up of council will change in September no matter what.

“We need to have diversity of opinion,” he said. “The community benefits when the best ideas float to the top.”