More expecting the campaign to be an interesting experience, Richard was thrilled when he got elected, and now, after being re-elected last October, he is fully immersed in the world of local politics.
“Anyone is allowed to do the job. You just have to get elected by the community you stand for. My local board has eight positions and 23 people stood for election, so I was lucky enough to be elected for the first time in 2010.
“I have a Bachelor of Communications and have had quite a bit of previous community experience, as well as an interest in politics and making positive change. Anyone over the age of 18 can stand, but then it is up to the voters who gets to be on the board.”
Enjoying the communication he gets to have with different parts of the community every day, Richard does a lot of talking but almost twice as much listening when it comes to engaging with people. Whether it’s working in schools with children’s panels, being on the youth board, helping with events, or working closely with community coordinators, leaders, and volunteers, Richard says there really is no limit to how much he can be involved with his local community. And with three portfolios, transport, community development and youth, the best part of the job is seeing positive change in these areas.
“It is quite a privilege to be planning for the future and then actually seeing things change now because of our decisions as a local board and community.”
Time management is one of the most important functions of Richard’s role as a local councillor as he has to fit in reading official documents, events, meetings, consulting, and his other job as a Community Health Worker, but he says it means he is never bored.
Richard knows that there is a feeling people are quite anti-council or anti-politicians in general, but he has found that people who are negative all the time are mostly in the minority and that while their views are just as important as everyone else’s, it is imperative to balance it with the positive feedback from the majority of those he talks to – people who are happy with the things that are happening.
“I think anyone considering politics or community work should go for it. If you’re passionate about issues and want to stand for something, do it. Get involved first with community organisations and ask lots of questions.
“It can be expensive to run a campaign, so try and work with like-minded people or look for assistance from family and friends, many of them will surprise you with how much support they’ll want to give. We always need younger people from all backgrounds to vote but also stand for positions, in decision-making roles.”