Published in the East Adelaide Herald on 3/12/2020
As a much younger person (43) I was elected to Unley
Council, while I had an interest in Council it would be overstating to say I
had a passion. Nevertheless, as the 1995 election date loomed closer a friend
encouraged me to run for Council. Not because they thought I’d be great but
because he wanted an election in the ward to provide an opportunity for he and
his fellow councillor to be scrutinised by the people in an election. In fact
he guaranteed me that I couldn’t win: with this in mind I lodged my nomination
Two days later I was elected unopposed (the colleague had withdrawn his
nomination) and the journey began.
I enjoyed being on Council for the two year term and was
confident enough with my skills to run for Mayor. My time on Council was short
and sweet as I lost. I sat back and watched but kept my distance and tried not
to be that person that harped on.
In 2006, I believed, once again that it was time. The facts
weren’t much different this time. I ran because I thought one of the candidates
was hopeless, he withdrew his name and once more I was elected unopposed. This
time I had an agenda and set about to get things done.
14 years later and now the longest serving member of Unley Council (but nowhere near the
oldest) I look back and ponder as to what has changed.
I can remember being able to talk to applicants sand
representors (planning matters); to be able to discuss, assist and negotiate
with them, the phone ran constantly asking for advice. Now we must keep at arms
length when discussing development.
I remember getting large agendas on a Thursday evening and
had to be ready to debate the following Monday evening. This actually hasn’t
changed, although there is a push for electronic agendas, but now the items on
the agenda will have been workshopped at least once before they get to be on
the agenda. Sometimes there is little left to say. I really enjoyed the debate
as each member took the floor and expressed their opinion not knowing what they
would say. I miss this robust debate and it seems that it is more often
possible to predict the outcome and much
is left unsaid at the end.
Almost all contact with residents now is via email. People I
communicate with every week might be strangers in the street. People expect a
much higher level of information to be disseminated and hence regular
newsletters, facebook postings, blog posts, twitter are beginning to seem
When I do meet with residents it's nearly always at a local coffee shop.
Given this I don't think I'll ever give op paper agendas and I hate Zoom meetings, they're just not the same.
What's next is anybody's guess but the journey will, hopefully, always be exciting and the fire in my belly alight.