Councillor profiles - Mayor Dean Johnson District Council of Kimba
I am a proud and passionate rural resident who makes no apologies for continuing to be a fierce advocate for better services and infrastructure for my town, my community and my region.
I was born and bred in Kimba, and my family continues to be active participants in the betterment of the Kimba district.
I’m married with four adult children, three of whom work within our family business in Kimba.
I am proud to be serving my third term in local government, the current of which has been as Kimba’s Mayor, a privilege I feel extremely grateful to have been afforded by the community and my fellow Elected Members.
Achieving big things
Kimba is strategically situated on the Eyre Highway, “Halfway Across Australia” between Sydney and Perth.
Kimba is also home to the Big Galah, as well as amazing silo art, and many tourists tell us they stop for a few days at our first-class free camping area just for the opportunity to take a photo of these larger-than-life attractions for social media accounts.
Kimba is approximately 450 kilometres northwest of Adelaide, and boasts excellent services and infrastructure, although it is a constant battle to keep and maintain them.
We have a district population of less than 1100 people, but don’t let our small numbers trick you into believing we aren’t committed to punching well above our weight in terms of achievement.
I think it’s fair to say that overachievement is the norm in Kimba, and the state and national awards our town has added to the trophy cabinet over the past few years is testament to that.
Kimba won the Keep South Australia Beautiful Sustainable Community Award as well as Overall Winner for 2017, and also picked up a raft of commendation and category wins at the National Keep Australia Beautiful awards.
Not bad for a small, inland agricultural community with no ocean or river to boost our chances.
We also picked up the MobileMuster National Top Collector per Capita for 2018, which demonstrates the forward-thinking approach of Council and our community.
I love the District Council of Kimba, and I love my region as well.
The Eyre Peninsula is an incredible area, boasting agriculture, aquaculture and tourism industries that generate over $4 billion in revenue annually.
Stay relevant and work together
In addition to my Mayor responsibilities, I am Deputy President of the Eyre Peninsula Local Government Association, and Deputy Member on both the South Australian Regional Organisation of Councils and the Local Government Association, South Australia board.
I believe our small communities need to stay relevant in our regions and continue to actively seek co-operation and joint initiatives in sub-regional contexts.
Not always popular
Without question the largest issue to ever be handled by our Council has been the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility site selection process.
It has been difficult and emotive, and highlighted both strong leaders as well as passionate advocates in our community.
Not everyone has agreed with my positioning on this issue and that’s okay. I believe leadership is not about taking the path of least resistance.
It does, however, involve listening to all points of view without prejudice, gathering facts and information, and then making decisions that will, on balance, advantage the majority.
Council’s unwavering position has been to facilitate information exchange and provide opportunity for all residents to gain knowledge and facts before any final decisions are made.
I believe we have been successful in this endeavour.
In for the long-term
Another difficulty within our community is also not even a local government responsibility, but Council has recognised that if it doesn’t drive the movement to effect change, who will?
Kimba has been without a permanent resident general practitioner for three of the past four years – hardly a problem unique to our community, but one I believe is completely unacceptable for rural and regional towns to have to accept in the 21st century.
Council has invested more than $100,000 to date on the recruitment and retention of a permanent doctor, with no real help from our federal and state counterparts.
It is not good enough and we have launched many actions, including a media campaign and a letter from a local eight-year-old to every doctor in Australia.
It’s just another problem city councils would never need to address, but that’s okay – Kimba and its residents are resilient and passionate about the long-term sustainability of our town, so I have no doubt our little community will find an answer to the problem, while those ultimately responsible for the provision of health services continue to handball the political footy.