ONE of Bundaberg's worst-kept secrets is now out - Jack Dempsey has officially announced he will run for mayor of the Bundaberg region.
Talking exclusively to the NewsMail, the former police officer and Bundaberg MP said despite the disappointment of losing his seat in the state election in January this year, his commitment to the region remained the same.
Mr Dempsey, whose presence at an array of recent community events has stirred speculation he might announce his candidacy, said he now wanted to be upfront with the community about his plan to win their vote in the March 19 poll.
Of those candidates who have so far officially put up their hand to be the next Bundaberg Mayor, who would you vote for?
This poll ended on 29 October 2015.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
"I'm 49, I know that I've still got a lot to offer and I've got a lot of experience through all levels of government," he said.
"My heart and soul is in the Bundaberg region and I want what the people of the Bundaberg region want - which is economic growth, job creation and a great environment to live, work, relax and raise their families in.
"They want stability and confidence in their council, but they also want action."
Mr Dempsey's announcement now means the mayoral race is now a contest of three, with current mayor Mal Forman announcing last month he would recontest, while Childers businessman Troy Madle has also said he would be in the running.
Mr Dempsey has so far been tight-lipped about announcing specific initiatives, but said he would be focusing broadly on issues including:
- Making the region a training and education centre of excellence.
- Ensuring Bundaberg's industry and agriculture achievements were put on the international map.
- Holding council meetings across the region.
- Ensuring all councillors were working harder at the grass roots to connect with ratepayers.
Mr Dempsey, a former police minister, said with achievements including the hosting of the world's most successful G20 event, the lowest crime rate and road toll in years, and more frontline police, he had a record of delivering.
"I know how to cut through the state and federal bureaucracy, I know how to deliver outcomes and I know how to get things done in a timely manner - but I know you've also got to bring the community with you," he said.
He admitted that while the defeat of the Newman Government - famous for not consulting enough - had been disappointing, it had been a huge learning experience that could allow him, as mayor, to work for the betterment of Bundaberg without the shackles of party politics.
"I think we've all been affected by the Newman factor and the state election, but I always believe in the glass half full and I have a very positive attitude," Mr Dempsey said.
"The beauty of being mayor is I don't have to get caught up in all the political rhetoric. I can be free of that burden and really get into the job of being a strong leader for the whole Bundaberg region.
"I just feel as though as a mayor I can be unleashed. I know I can go into a room and present Bundaberg in a really positive way."
The irony is also not lost on him that the people who booted him out of his state seat are the same ones who now appear to be behind him as mayor.
In July, less than six months after his defeat, the NewsMail ran an online poll asking if people would vote for him as mayor and 65% said they would, while another 8% said they would consider it.
"I'm getting a lot of support from people on the ground," he said.
"The people talking to me are saying they want change."