Mike Cusato should be no stranger to most of Port Macquarie and is part of Team Roberts in the upcoming Port Macquarie- Hastings Council elections. As a farmer and owner of the much loved Growers Market, Mike is not afraid of a bit hard work.
Tell us a little about yourself and why are you running for Councillor?
I moved to the Port Macquarie-Hastings in 1981 with my family when I was a young bloke, schooling here and also boarding school in Armidale later in high school.
I’ve worked on the farm or at the Growers Market from a very young age, and in 2004 I took over the running of the business. I’ve now spent many years of managing and being heavily involved in the running of this business, including looking after all the buying for the store and leading the many staff associated with the day to day operations.
I’ve also had many years’ experience in farming locally and on my other property in the New England, supplying fresh produce for my business.
I live in the Sancrox area with my wife, Rebecca, and I look forward to maintaining a successful business in the Growers Market. I want to be a Councillor to be a part of the decision making team that helps our area to build its potential reputation as the best place the world.
I believe the next Council has the potential to shape the next twenty years for our local area, and we need competent and community minded locals back in the driver’s seat, to make sure we get it right.
What are some of your polices leading into the next election?
I’d certainly like to see the DA process reviewed. At the moment, it’s not efficient and is costing this community plenty, because it’s not allowing for growth in the economy. If we have a strong economy, people keep their jobs, and jobs are a high priority for me. My staff are very important, and I have plenty working for me. At the moment, I’m working hard just to keep them in a job, but it’s getting so hard to hold onto them, because of the backward slide our area is experiencing. I’d like to work hard on driving a strong local economy because after all, if we’re not going forwards, we’re going backwards.
I would also like to see Council more approachable and supportive of projects and community events; at the moment it’s like they’ve got the big stick out, and it’s hard to get them to listen. I’d like to see Council supporting and working together with the community to achieve positive outcomes for the community.
If you could fix just one pressing issue for the Hastings immediately, what would it be?
There’s only one pressing issue right now, and that’s getting nine proactive and community minded individuals elected. I’ve been in this community, interacting and contributing for most of my life. That’s what this election is about – getting locally focused people back in charge. We’ve not had a voice for so long, and I’m very committed to being a great advocate for my community. I’d work with anyone that the voters elect, because our community deserves a fairer go and a team of locally focused individuals working together to represent them. Keep the politics out, I reckon.
What is your overall vision for our area heading towards 2020/2030?
It’s pretty simple. I’d love to see this area really live up to its potential in being the best place in the world to live, work and visit. I believe that through balanced development that protects our beautiful landscape, we can have the best of both worlds … A thriving economy, but without the unsightly highrises and over-development.
This is already the most beautiful place in the world, but it’s starting to look tired and is slowly wearing down visually. I’d like to see the area become tidy again and for our community to have pride in the area again.
You’re running as part of group C. Can you tell us a bit about your group?
This election’s ballot papers are confusing. There are so many ways that you can vote for an individual, and preferences may well decide who gets elected in this particular election. As an individual candidate, I needed to preference three other candidates, to ensure people who voted for me were voting correctly and that their vote counted.
I decided that the best way to show my preferences was by teaming up with like-minded individual candidates, who wanted similar outcomes for this community.
I knew Adam Roberts had been out in the community for two years already working hard on local issues and that he was widely well respected for this proactive approach. It was a no-brainer for me to be part of his team. I was a customer of one of Adam’s previous local businesses, and we’ve known each other for a number of years; we already had a good working relationship.
We’ve also included Ann-Maree Crowe and Glenn Scott, two very well respected and community connected individuals, who make our team vastly experienced and diverse.
As a group of individuals, we’re already embedded in the community through our various day to day roles, and we are already listening to the community – every day.
You ask all four of us the same question, and you may get four slightly different answers. That is what I love about this team; we can agree to disagree quite easily, and we’re on the same page as far as the bigger picture issues. One of the best things about our team is also the fact that none of us have been elected before and have no baggage to carry into the role of Mayor or Councillors; we’re really trying to bring a fresh start to our next Council.
What’s something our readers don’t know about you?
I spent two years as a Jackaroo when I was eighteen in the central north west of NSW, Quirindi and West Coonamble. I’m certainly no stranger to a bit of hard yakka.
How can readers get in touch with you?
They can check out the website, where they’ll find plenty more info on our team, including where we’ll be over the campaign period. They can also give me a call anytime on the phone or if they need some fresh fruit and vegies, drop in and see me at the Growers Market. It’s easy!