Researcher Renée Otmar has been endorsed by the Greens’ Geelong Branch to stand for the ward of Brownbill in this year’s council elections.
Dr Otmar has a professional background in health communications, medical research and publishing. She holds several postgraduate qualifications, including a Masters in Public Health and a PhD from The University of Melbourne.
“Between us, my partner and I have three teenaged children,” Dr Otmar said. “We moved to Geelong about 5 years ago, to give our family a better lifestyle and a chance to thrive in a strong community environment.”
“My partner works in Melbourne so we understand the problems that come when you rely on public transport to get to work every day.”
“We know what it is like when your kids are growing up and they want to leave their home town because they feel there is no future here for them.”
“And like others in the community, we feel the heartache of watching this magnificent city deteriorate into a sad commuter town.”
The Council elections, which will take place in October, are set to shake up a city that Dr Otmar said has “lost the plot”.
“In the year or so following the Geelong Cats’ historic 2007 Grand Final win, Geelong was buzzing – we had no end of large public events and exciting new projects were springing up everywhere. The city was energised and Council was actively initiating improvements across many areas of need.”
“We do have the great legacy of that period, but a stroll around the CBD today will leave an observer in no doubt that this city is depressed and neglected – sorely in need of a boost,” she said.
Dr Otmar referred to several recent reports and events that have highlighted Geelong’s troubles, including loss of employment in significant numbers, binge drinking, problem gambling and violence, and not just in the CBD.
She said that responses from Council and the State Government have included more liquor and gambling licences and reduced support for public safety – causing retail shoppers and businesses to desert it in droves.
“My aim is to make Geelong liveable again,” said Dr Otmar.
“As a researcher I have interviewed people across the region over the past few years, and in that time I have learned much about what Geelong people hold dear, about the issues that concern them and the city they would like it to be.
“People say they want Geelong to be:
• clean and free of litter, with plenty of green spaces
• safe for everyone, and accessible for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users
• energy efficient, offering innovative solutions for businesses and meaningful jobs for workers who live here
• governed transparently and inclusively
• a fun place to live and work.”
“In other words, they want a liveable city that is prepared for the challenges of the 21st century,” she said.
Dr Otmar said that if elected to Council she would advocate for a more energetic approach to making Geelong economically prosperous and enticing to live in, including active support for establishment of quality small businesses in the CBD, safety as a priority, improved management of litter and waste, smarter spending and real community engagement that provides opportunities for genuine community input into decision making.
“I would like to see Geelong become the vibrant city it deserves to be, and I am ready to be a progressive voice on Council in order to make that happen. My vision for Geelong will transform the CBD and give the community a better say about development and investment in our city.”
“I believe it is possible to create a Geelong that is clean, sustainable and innovative – an exciting, safe and vibrant city that no one would want to leave,” Dr Otmar said.