Twenty-eight-year-old Jack Neilson will be very much his own person fighting for his own causes when he sits at the table for his first Boulia Shire Council meeting.
Jack was elected to the council in a by-election held in August to fill the vacancy left by Allan Robinson, who resigned due to his departure from the district.
He received 58 votes to Del George’s 39 votes, followed by Melinda Punch on 37 and Tim Edgar with 18 votes.
All but Tim Edgar ran for election in 2016, where councillor-elect Neilson was unlucky to miss out, losing to Mr Robinson by eight votes for the final position on the council.
Jack’s election sees him follow in the footsteps of his mother, Kelsey Neilson, who got her own opportunity to represent the community on the Boulia Shire Council via a by-election.
She left the council in 2016 when she unsuccessfully challenged incumbent mayor, Rick Britton, for the position, and Jack said her knowledge would be “very handy” on the technical side.
“But I’ll be speaking my own mind,” he said. “Mum didn’t push me into doing this but hearing her stories made me think I’d like to have a go.”
Two of his highest priorities are representing younger people on the council, and retaining young families in the region.
Jack, who drives a water truck for a contractor, currently up towards Urandangie, said most councillors either owned a property or a business, but he represented the employee way of life.
“People come out here and love the lifestyle but there’s not enough work for them to stay,” he said.
“The government hands out the money and tells us how to spend it – it’s such a lottery.
“Young people need to know they can keep food on the table for a couple of years.”
Jack hit the headlines at the end of 2015 with his Dollar for Drought campaign, which tried to enlist Australia’s big supermarket chains to put out donation buckets so that shoppers could put in their spare change for drought relief.
He’s now engaged to the local school principal, Krystal Stanley, an ex-Winton resident, and looking forward to lobbying for things such as more road funding and rent relief when he’s in the council boardroom.