Cr Matt Benson-Lidholm believes his experiences and connections at local, State and Federal levels leave him well-placed to lead Albany as its mayor for the next four years. The former State MP has sat on the City’s council for the past four years after successfully campaigning to represent the Kalgan ward in 2019. Cr Benson-Lidholm said he tended to rely on “vision and consultancy” and that a good mayor was something who went out into the community to be involved “with everything that is possible”. His professional profile includes being involved in numerous boards, federations, groups and committees. They range from local groups to State industry bodies and beyond. “I see leadership as very much engaging with the broader community and listening,” Cr Benson-Lidholm said. “You’ve got to have the qualities of a listener, rather than being someone who shoots their mouth off and requires you to follow. “I’d rather hear what people have to say.” He said his connections within the community and beyond it would allow him to be a strong advocate for Albany to help address a range of issues. “I’ve been a business person myself, and still am because I’m a regional development consultant and a State Government lobbyist,” he said. “So I can go to ministers with particular issues that the local community deem appropriate for me to pursue. “At a council level, it takes on a grander picture, the sort of qualities you’d have in a mayor are such that you are consultative because you are willing to sit and listen, but you’ve got to be proactive as well.” He said he wanted to ensure people living in all areas of the municipality continued to receive fair representation following the ward system being officially abolished at this year’s election. The City has had a system of councillors being voted to represent specific areas since the Shire and Town merged in 1999, but it will no longer be the case following the October 21 election. “I’ve promised the Kalgan people if I get elected as a councillor you are still going to be one of my significant priorities as well as the people that live on the western side of the City,” he said. “My promise to them is that I will continue to represent their interests. “I still have a massive commitment there and that is part of my grand plan to continue to support business in those particular communities.” He said the next big thing for Albany was “pretty obviously 2026”, which he said would be a “massive undertaking” that there had already been a lot of work done on. “It’s going to require significantly more attention by way of financial support from the State Government because we are going to be the benchmark,” he said. “If I’ve got anything to do with it — and I have had — then it’s going to be bigger and better than Ben Hur, that’s my honest assessment of it. “There will then be a lot of positive spillovers associated with. . . the increased attention we see on Albany during our bicentenary.” Cr Benson-Lidholm said that, if handled correctly, the attention would likely promote further growth in the region’s population and its important tourism industry. He said proposals on the Albany foreshore, including the development within the Woolstores Precinct, would be important for the council to support. “They are the very kind of projects I want to see go ahead because that’s how you cater for the tourists that will come here from all around the world,” he said. “As an example of that, we must continue to promote the National Anzac Centre — which is world-class. “To have people to come here and stay you need to cater for them, so those sorts of infrastructure projects can position Albany well as the place to be. “People often say to me it’s wet one day and fine the next, but I say Albany is perfect one day and even better the next.” On the issue of extended trading hours, Cr Benson-Lidholm said he had not made up his mind. He indicated he would be open to a trial of potential changes and that the bicentenary in 2026 could be the best opportunity for such a trial because “we’re going to have so many people coming into the community”. “If that doesn’t convince people to say yay or nay, then I don’t know what would. “I’d rather make that decision further down the track. “I’m prepared to give it a go, but if that is not the intent of the broader community then for me to do anything else other than listen and take on board the collective concerns.” Cr Benson-Lidholm is one of seven candidates vying to become the City of Albany’s next mayor, and he is also one of the 11 candidates contesting four vacancies on the council. The winner of the election will be declared on October 21 with a majority of votes for local government elections being conducted by post.