by Nilsson Jones
Division 8 councillor Jacob Heremaia was one of the eight new faces to join Logan City Council following the March election, but what was most noticeable about him, and perhaps still is, was his age.
Elected at just 20 years of age, Cr Heremaia is the youngest councillor in Queensland, and last week marked his first 6 months in office.
We sat down (from a distance) with Jacob to discuss the journey so far.
The first question I put to Cr Heremaia was regarding the biggest surprise about the role that he did not anticipate, to which he quickly replied, “The reading. Lots and lots of reading”.
“In council it’s not just about town planning and rates, we are community leaders and our decisions affect so many people, so we need to be across the issues and the various stakeholders,” Cr Heremaia said.
I wanted to find out if age has been a significant factor in Cr Heremaia’s interactions, both inside and outside of the council halls.
Did people respect him and appreciate his unique perspective or was he dismissed for being too young?
The young councillor believes his youth has been an essential part of his approach and engagement with the community.
“It’s a pretty unique opportunity as a young person, everybody has their own skills and experience, some have a background in real estate or finance, and age is just another dimension that I bring to council.
“I absolutely want to make sure that as a young person, our voice is heard,” said Cr Heremaia.
Undoubtedly, the coronavirus has dominated the attention and concerns of most, but council has not stopped, and the councillor has been motivated to fix some of the local area’s biggest issues.
“Looking back, I entered council at a time when we were facing the first wave of COVID-19. Local shops were closed, parks were shut and libraries were locked up”.
“We were all faced with tough economic times. To make sure that everyone’s concerns were being heard, I opened my office at Park Ridge after-hours at my own expense. Cr Heremaia said.
At the top of the councillor’s priorities list over the past six months has been road upgrades.
“I was so happy to see the intersection of Logan Reserve Rd, and Stoneleigh reserve Blvd upgraded with traffic lights,” Cr Heremaia said.
Looking forward, I asked the councillor what he was most excited for in the six months to come.
“I think Christmas is obviously the biggest event in the coming months, and I’m excited for council to get out into the community, put up banners and different decorations and try to spread a bit of hope and positivity in what has been a very difficult period for many people out there,” Cr Heremaia said.
And for the Heremaia household, Christmas is always an important time.
“My parents and siblings will all be together, we love Christmas time, and obviously now it’s less about the presents and more about being together and reflecting on the year, plus Dad’s Souvlaki is always a guaranteed crowd-pleaser,” he said.
The councillor’s office is located at the Park Ridge Town Centre and is open for public appointments.