David Clark has lived in Glenbrae his entire life.
The Pyrenees Shire Council mayor’s first childhood home was located just 10 metres from where he operates his mixed farming property.
While it was not necessarily his intention to stay put, the suggestion came from his father at the end of year 11.
“I didn’t have a better idea, I didn’t really have a particular passion or interest at that stage,” Cr Clark said.
The house he lives in today, which he shares with his wife Peta and three children Victoria, 6, Mackenzie, 11 and Alexander, 14, was built in 1965. The surrounding farm is mostly beef cattle and about 30 per cent crop.
“They say with farms you’ve got to double them every 35 years to make them pay their way,” Cr Clark said.
“So my dad doubled it and I’ve doubled it since then… and hopefully will have a farm to hand over to one of my three kids.”
Cr Clark juggles a permanent job on the farm and doing the sport and ballet run with the children, with his commitments in natural resource management and community development.
He joined Conservation Volunteers, based in Ballarat, in the 1980s, has been extensively involved in Landcare, has been in the Army Reserve for 20 years and spent six years working for the state government’s Catchment Management Authority.
He is also the Rural South Central representative on the Municipal Association of Victoria and on the Australian Local Government board.
Cr Clark was elected Pyrenees Shire Council mayor for the fifth time in October 2017 following previous stints in 1999, 2003-04 and 2010.
He first ran for council prior to the local government amalgamation in 1992.
“I couldn’t imagine doing a 9-5 job, I’ve always enjoyed that mixing it up,” Cr Clark said. “And I’ve been able to use (the farm) as a base to go and do lots of other things like my local government and conservation stuff... without actually having to travel, so I’ve been lucky in that sense.”
Not only are his interests applicable to the area, there is also a lot of crossover.
“If you’re dealing with floods, there is a local government impact because local government has to do the response, but there is also a catchment impact and a Landcare impact,” Cr Clark said.
Waubra and Lexton are his main council communities. Cr Clark said one of his goals as mayor would be to create more community awareness of the diversity of council, even a small rural council.
While the most rewarding aspect was to see the community benefit from projects and initiatives, such as the wind farms around Waubra, which he estimates has put about a million dollars into landholders’ pockets.
“It’s a very different role to being a councillor, but you are a much better councillor if you’ve been a mayor and it also gets you quite close to the action,” Cr Clark said.
“The big project for me currently in my patch in Lexton is it’s the only town in the last 15 years where we haven’t been able to build or redevelop a community centre.”
Three weeks ago the council managed to get a community hall project off the ground for Redbank after three years of discussions with government.
Cr Clark said it was a big win because it would make a “huge difference” to the vitality of the rural community.
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