The Highland Perthshire ward – famous for its breath-taking scenery – lies north of the Highland fault line which runs from Loch Lomond, through Dunkeld and into eastern Scotland.
The most remote part of Perth and Kinross, the landscape is made up of mountainous regions, deep glens and woodland.
Highland is one of the region’s biggest tourist areas and is popular with hillwalkers, climbers and day-trippers.
The nature of the landscape means that access is one of the biggest issues for residents and an ongoing challenge for the council.
Its the largest ward in Perth and Kinross, but also boasts the smallest population with just under 10,000 people.
Around 70% of the local populace lives in the towns of Pitlochry and Aberfeldy.
According to the most recent stats, about 7% of the ward are income deprived, while 5% are unemployed – far less than the Scottish average (13% in both cases).
The percentage of people prescribed drugs for anxiety, depression or psychosis is the same – 7% – as the region average.
There was great community spirit shown in Pitlochry at the very start of 2017, when the historic Fisher’s Hotel burst into flames.
Staff were praised for helping get all 200 guests out swiftly, while firefighters tackling the rooftop blaze.
Home to several well known shops, restaurants and hotels, the ward also boasts the Watermill bookshop at Aberfeldy, which was list as one of the best in the world by the New Yorker magazine.
The Courier invited each candidate to submit a short introduction to themselves and, if they wished, a video explaining why they deserve your vote.
Ian Campbell (Conservative)
I urge you all to ensure that I and the Scottish Conservatives get your vote on May 4.
Voting for me as the number one candidate in Highland Perthshire will ensure we have a great chance of forming the next administration on Perth and Kinross Council and guarantee that I can deliver the best outcomes for Highland Perthshire.
I have worked, I believe, diligently for the past 10 years to ensure that Highland Perthshire does not get left out or left behind.
My focus as leader of the Scottish Conservatives locally will be on raising our educational standards, improving rural healthcare and ensuring young families get the best services possible.
I will make sure that our elderly and vulnerable get the care locally they deserve.
Help me achieve that by voting Scottish Conservative on May 4.
Kirsty Gowans (SNP)
Kirsty has lived in Highland Perthshire for over 20 years and has run her own business for the last four years. She believes that by working together, by encouraging community spirit and innovation, we can improve our local economy and living standards and release the enormous potential of our Highland community.
Being self-employed she would be available for constituents and to carry out any committee responsibilities.
Kirsty says she has the professional background, discipline and administrative skills to keep her work commitments up to date and would respond to constituents promptly and efficiently.
Kirsty said: “If I am elected I will represent and work hard for everyone in Highland Perthshire.
“I believe that we need to do as much as possible to help children to enjoy a healthy childhood with the highest quality education and best opportunities. I believe there is no better investment in the future of Highland Ward and education will be my priority.”
Xander McDade (independent)
The 23-year-old said he was hoping it would be “second time lucky” after previously standing for the Highland ward when he was 18.
Xander said: “I got involved in politics from an early age, helping campaign against the demolition of first our local curling rink and then the Bank House in the middle of Pitlochry by the same developer.
“People want someone local who will stand up for the best interests of their area and put those interests ahead of party politics and I think that is the important role independent councillors can play. I love the area I live in and that’s why I want to stand up and represent the people of Highland Perthshire.”
Xander is a manager in a local delicatessen and spoke of the importance of helping local business.
“I know from my own experience managing a shop in a rural town that more needs to be down to help small business in Perthshire,” he said.
“Local businesses are not just affected by excessive rate rises, but also falling footfall as visitors are deterred by parking charges, and more tour companies bypassing towns which charge for public toilets.
“I believe the council should extend its free parking from 15 minutes to three hours and abolish toilet charges, which would dramatically improve the experience of visitors and shoppers to our town centres and encourage more people to stop/stay in town.”
Mary McDougall (Green)
As a lifelong activist in community projects and supporter of environmental initiatives, I understand the importance of local innovation and people power.
I’d like to optimise and promote small rural businesses, farmers and land users working within a sustainable environmental framework. Scotland’s ‘natural capital’ is outstanding, with Highland Perthshire unequalled in its air and water quality, wild life and zero waste initiative – not to mention big, huggable trees.
Perth and Kinross Council has every reason to be ahead of the curve and lead the way in developing environmental good practice and solutions.
With a background in education, I’m keen to ensure that staffing in our schools is kept at a level competent to meet the needs of the 21st century, which is viable and fit for purpose in the long term.
A past practitioner in additional support needs, I understand the invaluable contribution of ancillary staff and the importance of funding mental health services for young people.
As a Scottish Green Party councillor, I will work diligently to encourage democratic participation at a local level, I will support a healthy environment and a sustainable, vibrant, local economy to enhance a sense of well-being accessible to all.
Kenneth Spittal (Lib Dem)
As a successful businessman running a small village store I have first hand experience of serving local communities and providing their local hub. I also have experience as a local community councillor.
Now retired, I want to become more involved with local politics and get things done for Highland Perthshire. I can bring the experience and knowledge gained as an independent advocate for Perth Independent Advocacy to the job of representing Highland Perthshire residents.
As a lifelong Liberal I am angered by growing inequality under the Conservatives. The reliance by vulnerable people on foodbanks brought by the Tory government and the continuing division caused by the Scottish Nationalist Party and their obsession with independence while our education system drops down the international rankings, our schools are starved of qualified teachers and our NHS faces a recruitment crisis for doctors and nurses.
Most people wish to work together without conflict and ideology. In Pitlochry, we have an exceptional tourist and local industry needing our support not division. It is time for change.
Mike Williamson (SNP)
Mike was born in Stockport, Greater Manchester, and moved to Strath Tummel as a youngster. Educated at Pitlochry High School and having qualified at Elmwood College Mike worked for many years as a green keeper, latterly at Aberfeldy Golf Club.
Mike lives in Glen Fincastle and as an existing councillor he is vice-convener of the environment service and scrutinises many other committees. He is also a member of the board of Live Active Leisure.
Mike said: “I am proud that I was instrumental in establishing the community warden in Aberfeldy, a very valuable resource in the area which has been transformative.
“The work I have led on better flood protection systems has had a real benefit for people in Blair Atholl and Aberfeldy and if re-elected I wish to continue helping to innovate in the service of our communities right across Highland Ward.”