Angela O’Leary for Hamilton West

As the elections loomed, I contacted Angela to ask if we could have a coffee.  I don’t know any Councillors (or ex Councillors) so wanted to get a first hand opinion on “the job” before ‘applying’.  Despite the fact, we’d basically be campaigning for the same votes she was open, honest and extremely supportive.  While, at a practical level – her advice was to make sure I got a “good photo” and effective 150 word bio for the candidate booklet (the same advice as Cnr Chesterman who I’d spoken to regarding the Railway Buildings) her support went much further.

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Angela founded and chairs Women in Politics.  It’s a group set up to support women in elected positions.  I can see how difficult being in public office would be (especially as an independent) but I could also see some of the added challenges that women have to overcome to even put their name forward.  So clearly this idea resonated for me.  If you haven’t read my previous post on Women in Politics I urge you to check it out.

Since then, I’ve caught up with her briefly at a few events and I like her.  I appreciate her support but respect her for other reasons.

I heard her label herself as “a worker bee” – which I totally get.  (Actually you should check out her recent radio interview with Paul the Other one where they cover lots of the current political issues).  She gets on with the job she is elected for.  She sits on various (optional) committees, chairs the Strategy and Policy committee (which in my opinion is the interesting one) and has worked on the “nitty gritty” for plans such as Frankton, the River plan, the Central city transformation plan etc etc.  Basically any of the plans which involved having a vision for the city with actionable steps… she was on it.  I feel that her and Mayor Hardaker were instrumental in leading the way from an overgrown farming town to one which is fast becoming a vibrant and cosmopolitan city which values public spaces and art.  These are the things which make Hamilton a great place to visit.

Now, while it’s hard for first time candidates to get their foot in the door – the challenges of incumbents is multi-faceted.  You are subject to constant criticism for decisions you made with voting and have limited ability to express your own opinion, or refute and communicate rationale.  Over this election, there are two issues that I personally want cleared up.

Angela is not for WATER METERS.  Urrghhhh this is such an annoying ‘non-issue’.  Some candidates have chosen to use this as their campaign platform – it lacks objectivity and is bordering on scare-mongering.  There is not one candidate who wants water meters.  The possibility of residential meters is jumping to conclusions.  What she (and other incumbents) have voted for is considering a CCO.  A CCO will save the city money – and (hopefully) improve efficiency in water services.  A CCO does not necessarily mean privatisation.  Councillors do have a lot of power – but not enough to push that through so please don’t vote based on “who signed the water meters pledge”.

One of the issues that has been raised at candidate meetings (even though its “too late”) is the one about pensioner housing being sold.  At the candidate meeting on Monday Angela was asked her position on this by a lady at our table (and rightly so as a lot of people have voiced concern and disagreement).  I’m undecided on the issue myself because I don’t have enough info – but the rationale she provided was so objective that you couldn’t argue with it.  I personally think the council failed in communicating to the pensioners properly but a representative council involves having people with different viewpoints.  Hers basically came down to her belief that an outsider (private investor) would be able to ensure that the tenants were better looked after.  The Council has been proven to neglect assets (*cough* Founders) and is so big that it cannot respond to tenant enquiries as quickly as someone whose sole focus is on that.  I’m sure there’s more to the story but I must say I was impressed by her response.

I guess it sums up that she is diplomatic and a pragmatist.  Her objective consideration of information is what we are asking of Councillors.  We don’t want people with agendas… and I honestly don’t believe she has one.  She’s just wanting to serve the public by balancing pros and cons and getting the job done.  I’ll be voting for her – and absolutely believe she deserves a fourth term.

P.S  This does not mean that I will agree with her all the time – it means I agree with how she forms her decisions.

Dislaimer: My opinion and I’m not asking you to agree.

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