In a lifetime that has seen him go from Penola to Pembroke to Perth to Penola again, Jon Ey is nothing but not adaptable.
“I want to shake things up a bit – I’m not going to toe the party line,” he says of his campaign as an independent candidate.
“Voters have given me a positive reception, because they feel rejected by the major parties.
“Labor feel they can’t win, and Liberals feel they can’t lose.”
Mr Ey’s policies, like other regional candidates, revolve around issues which are vital in country areas.
Mr Ey would like to see more water allocated and secured for our primary industries. Increased drought relief funding. Repairs for regional roads. More passing lanes. Fairer distribution of educational resources for country schools. More money for our hospitals and mental health services.
But what sets Mr Ey apart from the other candidates, apart from his campaign being “as grassroots as it can get”, is his focus on keeping MacKillop a progressive and clean electorate.
“From just two percent of South Australia’s land mass, this region yields forty percent of South Australia’s premium produce,” he explains.
Mr Ey will be fighting for renewable energy, country of origin labelling, strengthening anti-dumping regulations, and especially, making MacKillop a fracking-and-drilling free zone.
“I come from so many generations of farmers – I don’t want to see these energy companies get out of hand,” he said.
Mr Ey’s family have been based in Penola for five generations, with a sixth generation being based near Millicent.
Mr Ey’s family have been involved in the social fabric of the South Eastern time for quite some time – his father coached tennis for fifty years, and like Mr Ey, was a member of the theatre/comedy troupe the Penola Players.
The Penola Players were originally formed in the 1950s by Mr Ey’s grandmother.
Mr Ey was born in Penola but went to school at Pembroke, and then lived in Adelaide and Perth for some time.
He has degrees in wine marketing and micro computing technology, and at Adelaide worked at Computing Associates (now CA Technologies), and at Perth was the state manager of PeopleSoft (now Oracle).
He returned to Penola because he wanted his children to grow up in the country, away from the rat race.
He now umpires the under-17 Naracoorte Tatiara League, and like his dad, coaches tennis.
One of the most interesting things about Mr Ey is that he had an abrupt career change in his adult life.
“I went from being a manager to a truck driver – it was a complete re-think, a complete re-invention.”
As there was no way for Mr Ey to continue “climbing the corporate ladder” in his old profession in the country, he decided to drive freight trucks for a living, and found that he enjoyed it.
It was a move that proved Mr Ey could handle challenges. This, as well as the people management and leadership skills he picked up in his past work, have prepared him for political life.
Mr Ey has previously been involved in University campaigns, but it’s been “nothing on this level”.
Whilst there has been much to do and learn on the campaign trail, Mr Ey is “grateful for all the support” he’s received on the way.
Hi family are supportive of his political aims, and actively help out. His daughter Georgie helps out with her social media skills, and his other daughter, Aly, is helping to host events.
Like the other candidates, Mr Ey has been on the road, speaking with potential voters in the Coorong and Tatiara about water issues and the fishing industries.
He’s also concerned for places such as Naracoorte, and how the tourism economy could potentially be damaged by gas drilling.
Whatever happens, Mr Ey is excited about the election, and like the other candidates, will be working hard up until the last ballot is counted.
On February 18 there will be a family fun day fundraiser for Mr Ey at the Penola Oval starting at 12, and all are welcome to come along.