Long-time resident vows to ‘get the job done’ for Division 2
LONG-TIME Whitsunday resident Heidi Ward is standing for Division 2 in the upcoming council election, on the basis of getting the job done, and has a long list of community achievements to her name.
The successful businesswoman has run many Whitsunday businesses including establishing award-winning restaurant The Courtyard, in 1997, which she ran for five years.
This was followed by multi award-winning catering business Catering Whitsunday, which she ran for 18 years, during which time she also opened - and still operates - Sushi Whitsunday, which has been established for 10 years.
She completed her primary and high school education in the area, working in hospitality from the age of 15, and picking up a diploma in travel and tourism along the way.
After school, she managed five-star restaurants, in Brisbane, and then embarked on a backpacking adventure through Asia, Europe and Africa for two-and-a-half years, before returning to the Whitsundays.
Her passion - and the platform she is running on - is the community, and her wish list includes helping to combat domestic and family violence, the ice 'epidemic' and youth suicide.
She also wants more affordable housing, aged care facilities and disability services, and would like to see every main street in the region have free public wi-fi, water stations, phone-charging points and more shade and art spaces.
"Having lived in the area almost my whole life, and raising my son here, community issues are my passion," Ms Ward said.
"I am very familiar with many community issues - and I realise how serious some of them are, and that they need support - and I would like to help with these issues.
"I believe community issues should come first. Until I get in, and see what I can do, I can't guarantee everyone's going to get wi-fi in their main street but it's on my list.
"The more we have to offer in the townships the better it is for the communities and tourism."
Other important issues for Ms Ward include parking, off-leash dog areas and a dinghy landing point in Airlie Beach.
"The parking in the Airlie Beach Main Street has been an ongoing problem for a long time and I would like to endeavour to find some solutions," she said.
"We need off-leash dog areas, where the family pet can go for a swim and run freely, and we also definitely need to address the cruising community and allow free access for them to bring their tenders into Airlie Beach."
With her professional background, Ms Ward is well placed to bring more events to the region, which benefits both the community and tourism.
"I would like to see one major event a month, plus smaller events in between, to stimulate community spirits and put bums in hotel beds."
Ms Ward's previous community achievements include leading the Main Street traders through the Main Street upgrade, in 2012, which then led on to founding the Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce, with Ms Ward as president for two years.
Ms Ward is also well-known for launching the 2011 Smile Whitsundays customer service campaign, as well as the 'shop local' campaign and the school holiday program. She also founded, and ran, the Airlie Beach Surf Lifesaving Club - all as a volunteer.
On a personal level, Ms Ward has competed in Outrigger World Championships, has a diploma in criminology and criminal justice, and has started a diploma in psychology. She also paints and has just written a book, due to be published in 2020.
"If I get in, I am going to grasp the job with energy and I pride myself on being a person who follows through and gets the job done," she said.
The Whitsunday Regional Council election will be held on March 28.