Tasman District Councillor
Born and bred in Richmond, I shifted back to the district after 18 years away to find significant population growth. But services, facilities and infrastructure Were not keeping pace. Having worked in fundraising, standing for Council felt almost like the next logical step to support community development.
I went to a candidates' information evening being run by the National Council of Women prior to the 2004 election, and quickly realized that this would be a nigh-on impossible task with a one-month old baby and a five- year old. It was still a challenge, and certainly one that councils were neither geared for nor prepared to support, when I stood and was elected three years later.
I was one of three women on Council when I was first elected in 2007; one of four in my second term; and one of only two out of 14 elected representatives in my final term.
I encountered some sexism on the election trail, being questioned at a candidates' meeting about how I would manage having a young family and being on Council, and if Council would be my priority if elected. (I was definitely not the only parent with young children standing). I was able to reassure the audience that, despite their concerns, Council wouldn't be my priority, my family would be; and questioned them in return whether their ideal councillor was one who didn't prioritise their own family.
In fact, and as selfish as it may sound, my family was a key motivation for standing. I wanted a town, a community, a region, where my children, my parents and my family, could live, work, play, retire, and afford. However, I didn't want this exclusively for my own family; but understanding the needs of young families in particular, and seeing that that voice was not represented well on council, drove me to stand.
While the average councillor age has certainly reduced since I was first on council, the gender disparity remains. However, after nine years on council I decided not to re-stand.
This was published in: Women Decision-Makers Nelson and Tasman 1944 -2018, p. 32. Compiled by Dr Shelley Richardson, Elaine Henry, Gail Collingwood, Hilary Mitchell.
Do you have a story about this subject? Find out how to add one here.