The Cessnock Chamber of Commerce breakfast turned political this month, with two federal candidates being the main guest speakers at the breakfast on Tuesday.
Labor candidate Joel Fitzgibbon and independent candidate Cordelia Troy both took the floor to outline their backgrounds and main issues in the upcoming election.
Current MP Mr Fitzgibbon spoke about his journey from Cessnock councillor to the federal arena.
During his time as a councillor, Mr Fitzgibbon said Cessnock was known for its bad roads, disheveled CBD and high unemployment.
He said Cessnock was now “a far more vibrant city,” but that unemployment had remained an issue during his 20 years in the Hunter seat.
Mr Fitzgibbon said stubborn unemployment and a culture of family environments with no work structure was a big concern.
“For me that remains one of my key objectives but one of my key frustrations,” he said.
Mr Fitzgibbon said this could be improved through funding Gonski reforms for education.
Ms Troy said she had thought about running for the federal seat for a while and that now was the right time.
She considered her campaign against Mr Fitzgibbon as a “David and Goliath” battle but said she felt compelled to run due to a lack of interest from other candidates to meet with the community.
Ms Troy, who has served eight years as a Cessnock councillor, said her experiences in volunteering and as a painting contractor have allowed her to talk to people and find out their issues.
“I see the nuts and bolts of how people live,” she said.
“I’m not distant from that.”
She said that kids of today weren’t taught “simple” things in school such as how to open a bank account, how to vote and how to drive and that the Hunter had some of the highest rates of young people dying on roads in the country.
“These are issues that need to be addressed,” she said.
Ms Troy said while she couldn’t make policy, she could hold others to account and speak on behalf of her community.
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