Mat Hatcher runs for mayor in 2021 council elections

Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber president Mathew Hatcher will put his name forward as a mayoral candidate for the Eurobodalla Shire council elections on September 4.

The 39-year-old business owner said it was time he stood for council to reconnect the community and push for better strategic planning.

Mr Hatcher came to the shire after his mission to visit seven continents before the age of 30.

At the age of 19, he left his Alabama home hopped about hospitality venues, managing various establishments as well as volunteer aid work on his 75-country journey.

Mr Hatcher's wife was originally from the shire and exposed him to life on the coast. They now have two kids and call Tomakin home.

It didn't take long for Mr Hatcher to fall in love with the community.

He is the founder of South Coast Donations Logistics (SoCoDoLo) and Guerrilla Roasters.

Australian Community Media asked Mr Hatcher three things he would like to achieve if elected as mayor.

Mathew Hatcher will run for mayor in the 2021 Eurobodalla Shire Local Government elections in September. Picture: Supplied.

Mathew Hatcher will run for mayor in the 2021 Eurobodalla Shire Local Government elections in September. Picture: Supplied.

He replied: "True community engagement and transparency."

"It's something that is often said, so the implementation of it and our strategy for that is the key," he said.

He also wanted the council to improve its financial management and utilisation of resources: "Better strategic planning and preparedness for bushfire and other natural disasters in the future."

His long term goal for the shire was to repair the relationship between community and council: "All the while creating a community for my children to have the option to stay and raise a family of their own."

"Youth retainment is a huge issue here and it needs to be addressed," he said.

In 2020, Mr Hatcher was named joint Eurobodalla Shire Local Hero, after his extraordinary efforts of bushfire relief work.

He continues to help others, finding solutions for those in need.

Mr Hatcher said there as there was a lack of leadership and coordination with flooding donations, so he set up SoCoDoLo.

"There were donations and good on trucks coming in from all angles, with no coordination on the ground," he said.

There were 250 volunteers who jumped on board to help Mr Hatcher distribute goods from Lake Conjola to Mallacoota.

Today, his bushfire relief work continues. He felt reigns should have been taken over and "traditional avenues" should have provided support quicker.

He believes the shire is currently in no better position since the 2019/2020 fires.

"If a bushfire comes this summer, we are in no better place," he said.

"We should have learned a lot and become more prepared for next time, but I don't think the communication has been fixed."

After witnessing the community come together after the bushfires, he was inspired.

"It was rewarding to see and rewarding to be a part of it," he said.

He was an outlet for many, hearing stories that were grim and others that were heartwarming.

"I have so many close friends now, we are only close because they lost everything, and we were their last hope; now I am a part of their family in a way," he said.

"I want to see this area recover and prosper."

I am not a politician, I am a community person who gets sick and tired of things and can't sit back and be quiet

Mathew Hatcher

His driving force was to help the community.

"I am the face and the voice of the smart people, I learn from them," he said.

"I just so happened to be the best person for that role at the time.

"If the community thinks I am the best fit for mayor, I am not going to run away from them.

"I am not a politician, I am a community person who gets sick and tired of things and can't sit back and be quiet.

"I want to see businesses thrive and smart development.

"I want to see a place my kids can choose, when they turn 18, whether they want to stay or go - not that they have to get out of here if they want to be something. I want them to have the option."

Mathew Hatcher in the SoCoDoLo warehouse packed to the rafters with donated goods.

Mathew Hatcher in the SoCoDoLo warehouse packed to the rafters with donated goods.

Mr Hatcher wants to help create a vision for the shire to grow stronger.

"I think we are at that tipping point, where are we going to be in 20 years? We need to make that decision very soon and work towards it," he said.

"We need a vision; currently, I don't think that exists, there's no long-term plan."

Mr Hatcher advocated strongly for "genuine consultation" between the council and community.

"The community needs to feel they're being heard," he said.

"Clearly with Dalmeny, Broulee (developments) and the pool, the community feels like it is all commercial in confidence and things are being done behind closed doors.

"Chambers don't feel like they are being heard.

"The council needs to rebuild trust with the community. The connection between council and community is completely lost."

Mr Hatcher believes his connections with people and businesses "on the ground" would be beneficial on the council.

Since considering to run for council five years ago, Mr Hatcher said he has utilised time studying the processes of local government.

"I was completely new to it; I was passionate, but I would have been a muppet of the system," he said.

"Now I have been given five years to dig deep, study and see the true colours of people and the way local government works."

Mr Hatcher will announce his fellow group members on Facebook and the Advance Eurobodalla website.

For information on the upcoming elections, visit the council's website.

This story Could Mat Hatcher be the Shire's next Mayor? first appeared on Bay Post-Moruya Examiner.

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