Meet The Candidates Interviews with Michael Sama, Jeanette and Peter
Bay FM – Aug 9 2021
Bay FM Fernando – May 17 2021
Bay FM Fernando – May 17 2021
Michael is currently the Mayor of Byron Shire and has been a Councillor for the last 5 years, including 2 years as Deputy Mayor. He has completed degrees in Law and Commerce and a postgraduate CIMA qualification in accounting and business strategy.
He lived and worked in Europe for 9 years, managing finance departments including within Local Government, with stints in London and Germany.
Michael’s local experience includes being General Manager of Santos Organics in Byron Shire for 6 years, where he converted a failing retail business into a thriving not-for-profit social enterprise. Michael also now works part-time as the General Manager for Mullum SEED, a local environmental charity that auspices and supports members such as COREM, ReforestNow, Rainforest4 and Byron Shire Chemical Free Landcare.
A family man, father and step-father to three children, he lives in the hinterland of the Byron Shire and spends his spare time regenerating his property or tending to the veggie garden. He loves a game of tennis or chess and enjoys watching AFL.
Council committee appointments include Water, Waste and Sewer, Finance, Audit, Bushfire, Liquor Accord, Coastal Estuary Catchment and Floodplain Risk Management. Michael has been advocating fiercely for housing equity and fought hard to limit Airbnb in the Byron Shire, personally negotiating with the then Planning Minister while serving as Acting Mayor in 2019, to enable Byron to impose a 90-day cap on investor holiday lets, the only Council area in NSW to be granted the ability to impose this strict cap.
Housing initiatives include the creation of a Community Land Trust to enable Council land to be placed in the trust, such as the old Mullum hospital site, which will lock in affordable outcomes in perpetuity. This Council is investigating Lot 22 in Mullumbimby for up to 300 affordable dwellings and was the first Council to declare a housing emergency. Byron has been joined by Bellingen, Coffs, Lismore, Ballina, Tweed and Shoalhaven Councils.
Other initiatives on Council include Byron’s first Natural Burial Ground, motions against Adani, including targeting of Westpac and Downer EDI, both of which led to changes in direction from those organisations.
Sama Balson is an advocate for equality, diversity and social justice, her work history spans over two decades experience in film and the performing arts industry. She has worked as an artistic leader, creative director and in production management.
As a film and theatre director, Sama worked across the U.K, the U.S.A, Italy and France. As an Artistic Director, she programmed events, shows, festivals, workshops and community forums, collaborating with councils and advocacy groups such as Amnesty International Australia and Chill Out- Children Out of Detention. Outside of the arts industry, she worked for the Australian government as a Senior HR Consultant.
Sama trained at the EORA Aboriginal Centre of Visual and Performing Arts in Sydney before moving to Paris to train at the Ecole Internationale de Théâtre Jaques Lecoq, then in business management at the Sydney Business School.
Sama first moved to the Byron Shire in 1998, and returned several years ago, after living abroad and interstate, to be close to her three generations of family in the area. Sama now teaches performing arts to children and to adults in the community.
Witnessing the dire local housing situation, Sama felt compelled to act and founded the grass-roots movement, Women’s Village Collective. The Not-for-profit organisation is tackling the housing crisis, its effects on the community and creating lasting innovative solutions. This work brought Sama to work alongside the Byron Shire Council.
To help solve the current housing emergency, Sama is putting her strengths of creative leadership, innovation, her care for people, love of the environment and lived world experience into this team- to help drive the change we need right now.
Peter’s skills and experience span different and vital aspects of life in the Shire.
During his time as a progressive independent Byron Shire councillor from 2004 to 2008, including 18 months as deputy Mayor, he was the main driver of the major upgrade and reopening of the Mullumbimby Civic Hall and chaired committees including Biodiversity & Sustainability, Social Planning, Estuary Management and Cycleways.
Peter has an active commitment to addressing the Shire’s issues through committees and board membership. He has been a board member of the Byron Bay Community Centre and the screen industry organisation Northern Rivers Screenworks, a committee member of the Big Scrub Landcare group, Broken Head Protection committee, Community Action Network [CAN] and Mullum Hall management committee chairperson. He has been a long term member of council’s Biodiversity Advisory Committee since 2004 and is a life member of the Brunswick Valley Landcare Group.
Environmental restoration is a core value for Peter. He has hands-on experience and understanding of bush regeneration, farm forestry and the reconnecting & revegetating of wildlife and riparian [waterway] corridors giving him a grass roots understanding of the costs and challenges associated with environmental repair and enhancement.
He obtained a medical degree [MBBS] from Melbourne University and worked as a Doctor in Occupational Health, Rehabilitation and Medicolegal working with senior management of government and private companies. He is actively involved in the creative industries particularly the music and film industry as a Musician/Producer and Screen Composer.
Peter is committed to improved public transport and cycleways, strategic climate change adaptation, ecological integrity, increased revegetation of degraded land, use of the rail corridor for light rail and adjacent trails and for Byron Bay urgent coastal erosion solutions and park and ride.
He has the capacity, flexibility, empathy, communication skills and big picture contemporary thinking needed to assess, confront and help positively guide and resolve the always changing issues of Byron Shire.
Jeannette Martin, mother of 6 now adult children, has been a community development worker for the past 22 years with qualifications in Community Development, Governance and Workers Co-operatives. She has lived in Mullumbimby since 2006.
Jeannette was elected to Byron Shire Council in 2016 and is serving on Durrumbul and Civic Hall Section 355 committees, the Biodiversity, Communications, Heritage and Transport and Infrastructure Committees, and the Mullumbimby Hospital Site and Mullumbimby Masterplan Project Reference groups.
Concurrently, she has been involved in establishing and assisting numerous community projects including Mullumbimby SEED, Mullumbimby Community Garden, Reforest Now and Ngara Institute’s ‘Politics in the Pub’. Presently, she is actively supporting the Byron Shire Natural Burial Ground and Nature Reserve, the Significant Tree Register and Mullum Cares “Salvage Culture” projects.
She believes strongly in the power of utilising the skills and knowledge of our community to get things done and to keep our creative and diverse culture vibrant and alive.
She highly values our beautiful trees and the varied natural environment in the Byron Shire. Her voting record supports her goal of always seeking the best possible environmental outcomes in our ever changing shire.
She is heartbroken hearing the accounts of people struggling in the shire’s current housing crisis and is resolute in finding solutions.
She is very keen to connect our bicycle pathways in the shire to promote not only a clean environmental transport option, but also to provide enjoyable outdoor activities for families.