I’ve nominated to be a Councillor for the South Coast Ward of City of Onkaparinga. Some information about me is shared on the LGA website; this is the only other place I’ll be discussing it online. I’m finding speaking with people face-to-face really valuable, but don’t want to be spending more time on social media. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to organise a face-to-face meeting, send me a survey or invite me to a local event.
During the last 8 months of maternity leave I’ve really enjoyed being able to spend more time getting to know my neighbourhood better. I’ve recently joined the Board of Seaford Community Centre, where I’ve been leading mums and bubs yoga, as well as enjoying activities ranging from baby massage classes to an Adelaide Symphony Orchestra concert. I’ve benefited so much from attending my local CaFHS group for new mothers, as well as babytime at Seaford Library. It’s been these experiences, as well as calls from the community for greater council transparency, that have led me to nominate.
During a recent event at the community centre I was speaking with retiring Councillor John Gunn, who said that the key to council elections was getting people to vote. The majority of people simply throw their ballots in the recycling bin without a second glance, if they notice them at all. I’ve spoken to several people who don’t typically vote; one woman said “all right, you’ve convinced me I should – tell me where I need to go and when.” I explained that the ballots come in the mail, you don’t need to go anywhere but a postbox once you’re done!
I’ve just completed a PhD discussing deliberative democracy and the importance of diverse participation, so I’m focusing my efforts on talking to people who don’t normally vote to support greater participation. I’m not focusing my attention on the minority of people who are really engaged in local politics, discussing it on social media and going to meetings. If you’re reading this, you probably are one of those people – in which case, you’re welcome to email me to arrange an in-person chat. I have a baby to care for, so am being careful how I prioritise my time. This council experience for me is involving talking with people who I come across in my everyday life in the City of Onkaparinga, like new families, librarians and people in shops, parks or on the beach.
Running for council is an anxiety-inducing experience – for example, I’m not comfortable posting my personal address on the internet, which is part of the reason I’m not engaging in public debate about council issues online. I think the legal requirement to post your address with every interaction is a barrier to participation and thus undermines democracy.
However, running for council has also been a positive experience already, because I’ve met inspiring people – for example Katie from Seagull Studio, who made me feel like running for council while caring for a small child is normal! I’m hopeful that the positives of this experience will overwhelm the negatives and we can start 2019 with a fresh, open and collaborative local government in the City of Onkaparinga.
Authorised by Cobi Calyx, 6 Birch Ave Seaford 5169