Hometown homeless focus: Ron Bertelsen makes his pitch to Geraldton voters
A self-described “open book”, Ron Bertelsen says he’s a hopeless liar.
And while those attributes probably might not see Mr Bertelsen succeed in State or Federal politics, he believes his straight-up and honest approach will serve him well on a local council.
The community services worker — employed at Regional Alliance West Geraldton as the team leader for its prisoner reintegration program — is one of 13 candidates fighting for a spot on the City of Greater Geraldton council.
Seven positions are up for grabs when two-yearly local government elections are held on October 16.
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Mr Bertelsen, born and bred in Geraldton, had a crack at getting elected to the council in 2019 but didn’t succeed.
This time around, his campaign focuses on implementing a homelessness strategy, achieving a zero carbon footprint, boosting tourism in the Abrolhos Islands, and creating a dedicated evacuation shelter in Geraldton.
A father of two, Mr Bertelsen said he wanted his daughters to grow up in a city where they wanted to start their own family.
“I want to be involved in the town moving forward,” he said.
“I’ve got a young 21/2-year-old daughter and I want to see the town be a better place for when she grows up.”
According to Mr Bertelsen, his grandfather moved to Geraldton in the 1930s and was one of the first people to start cray fishing at the Abrolhos Islands.
But Mr Bertelsen said the stunningly beautiful archipelago wasn’t reaching its full potential as a tourist destination.
“It want to see it opened up more to everyday people, but done in a way that protects business and environment,” he said.
“It’s an underutilised resource just off our coast.”
As a community worker who sees first-hand the struggles of Geraldton’s most disadvantaged, Mr Bertelsen wants the City to tackle homelessness head-on.
“We’ve got people living in squalor,” he said. “You get someone into a house, then that’s the starting block. When they are making money they are spending money. You’ve got to start at the base. One of the things I pushed a couple of years ago when I ran for council is implementing a homelessness plan. Two years down the track they are realising it’s an issue and that there is a need for a homelessness plan or strategy.”
Praising the city’s foreshore, Mr Bertelsen said it was time to beautify the outer suburbs.
“The foreshore looks great, but the focus needs to start shifting towards the suburbs,” he said. “If we want more people to move here, we need nice areas to live in.”
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