Situation vacant: Female city councillor

Published first in Hamilton News 30 November 2018

Situation Vacant: Hamilton City Councillor.  Fixed term role starts October 2019.  Remuneration starts at $71,638.  Job description:  To represent and lead the community, set policies, make regulatory decisions and review council performance.  Preference: Female.

Women hold a mere 25% of the seats in our current city council.  Did you notice?  Probably not.  We’ve become used to our local government lacking diversity in gender, ethnicity and socio-economic background.  But, imagine how different the dynamics and decision-making process of a council that truly represented our city would be.  I’m not asking for quotas to achieve diversity, we don’t need them – but we do need to support more women to put their name forward for next year’s local elections.  Will you join me?

Are we lacking strong female community leaders?  Are we short on ambitious, strategic professional women?  Would Mums with young families prefer to stay in the home?  Heck no, definitely not and no thanks.

The under-representation of women in our council was the topic of a kōrero I initiated last week.  I was interested in barriers to women standing and what other women could offer them to help.  The experiences of women are different, but in general we are reluctant to stand for family reasons, financial reasons and because, rather sadly we don’t back ourselves enough.  Women ponder over a longer set of criteria than males before considering themselves ‘qualified’ enough to stand.  Basically, women don’t rate themselves as highly as a similarly or even lesser ‘qualified’ male would. Go figure.

The shining beacon of hope from that kōrero was that a group of strong, capable and passionate women have offered experience, skill, creativity and knowledge to support other women to stand next year.  This is exciting, encouraging and could be transformational for how public service looks going forward.

So today, I’m asking the women of Kirikiriroa Hamilton to consider themselves worthy of representing our city and to know that there is support for them to do this.  If it’s not your cup of tea, make sure you shoulder tap an inspirational wāhine to put themselves forward and then join us in supporting them to succeed.

Advertisements

Episode #108 – Waikato Women’s Fund and Femininera

 
9min “So much for the summer” from Cheshire Grimm
15:24m Melissa about Waikato Women’s Fund
23:07m “Dedicated” from The Changing Same
27:15m XXSSY about Femininera
38:02m “Ataraxia” from XXSSY
41:45m My Top 5 ish local events for the week
49m “Let the games begin” The Recently Deceived
54:21m “Thompson is in trouble” The Scones.
 
Huge thanks again to Hamilton Taxi’s the sponsor of this Free FM show.
 

Episode #107 – A new approach to housing & “Drunken nights in Dublin”

Episode #107 Podcast link. 

11:11m – “Painting pictures” a track from 80s pop rock band Step Chant Unit.

15:30m – Connected living and affordable housing – it can be done, but will involve putting our current presumptions and systems aside.  Speakers from around the motu will present the community with innovative ways to address our housing crisis – through land trusts, co-housing, ecological building and truly affordable homes.  In today’s podcast we are joined by organiser – Samantha Rose from SHAMA to hear more about the kaupapa and event.  Tickets are available from eventbrite for $10, or $15 at the door.

45017795_1065495313624805_3333840442214055936_n.jpg

26:07m – “Hamilton” Chris Thompson

29:37m – Pinenut Records released it’s first album by Sneaky Feelings in 2017 and is following up with the release of “Drunken Nights in Dublin” by folk artist Chris Thompson.  44 years after it was recorded.  The provenance of the acetate which was picked up on Ebay last year is fascinating – and the craftmanship that my guest Donald McLeod of Pinenut records has put into pressing the LP and screen-printing the album cover is a testament to good things taking time.  The album is being released at a one-off full band gig at Nivara Lounge on November 24th.

46403352_2343273992625615_211226495912247296_n.jpg

40:30m – “Fox’s minstrel show” Chris Thompson

44:30m – Top (more than 5) local events.

50:11m “The Simpsons” The Recently Deceived

50:50m – “La la land” Coral

Listen to the podcast here.

So, have you thought about running in next year’s local elections yet?

*Coffee kōrero happening on Thursday the 22nd for potential female candidates and / or supporters.  Please get in touch with me directly for more information*

I don’t know about you, but there are times that I can’t even go to the toilet without someone needing something.  I can be interrupted mid-shower because someone’s hungry. (The someone is a 7 year old daughter by the way).  So is it any wonder pursuing goals outside the house is put aside until our children are old enough to at least babysit themselves?  I’ve been thinking a lot about why we have so few local female political leaders.  25% in Hamilton City Council.  20% of our countries Mayors.  I’ve talked to two of our city councillors about it it – and despite seeing all the reasons why we aren’t better represented, there is a way forward.

In the lead up to the 2016 local elections I was set on running as a Hamilton West Councillor.  I was sure I could do it if I worked hard enough.  I was sure I could offer a viewpoint I felt they needed in there, and I felt I had enough support form my husband to go through with the campaign.  But, that didn’t stop me backing out days before filling in a nomination form.  I just couldn’t do it.  I made excuses like, I can’t afford to do this (it’s easier to boost name recognition when you have money), Public speaking is terrifying.  I don’t want people looking at me all the time.  I really really struggled to do an elevator pitch on why someone should vote for me.  The person I had to be in campaign mode, when I’m naturally self deprecating and introverted is so far outside my comfort zone that it was causing anxiety.  I felt that so many people like myself, were switched off to local politics, that I wouldn’t have the base of voters needed to get in.  Why put myself through it?  Why put my family through it?

(Add >> quick acknowledgement that politics can be hard on the families of male councillors too).

And, I was extremely disappointed at the outcome of the 2016 elections.  The candidates I thought would be a community focused, progressive, environmentally focused and status-quo changing candidates weren’t elected.  Instead we have a conservative – Council which lacks diversity on many fronts.  Including females around the table.  Did I regret not standing?  No.

Is there any wonder women don’t run for council when we have less financial resources, can’t justify time away from the family and under-value our own skills and experience.

We’ve heard regular complaints about conduct in the chamber.  Slurs, disrespect, lewd jokes and bad language.  Not everyone wants to hear that all day.  That’s not to mention the tight 5, group think, old boy’s club, exclusion and political jestering that we associate with being in the game.

However, earlier I mentioned that there is a way forward, and it starts now.  Back in 2016 when I considered running as a candidate, I approached Angela O’Leary to talk about “the job”.  What it entails, and why campaigning is like.  She shared her background into the role and the support that exists for women in politics.  She has mentioned a willingness to mentor others to the role.  (She’s been a Hamilton city councillor for four terms so knows the job).  Last month she reinforced the need for us to shoulder tap people we know, to consider standing in next years election.  (Link to My most recent interview with Angela).

angela

These messages were reinforced again yesterday when I spoke to Paula Southgate.  She discussed her background to entering the governance roles she has had including 15 years at the Waikato Regional Council.  I felt that her advice about women with young families, taking on school board roles and kindy committees to gain helpful experience was a practical step for those who might be interested in the future. Of course governance isn’t the only pathway.  However she too mentioned being willing to mentor someone.  We discussed the calibre of existing female leaders in our city, and the need for everyone to ‘shoulder tap’ someone we think would represent the city well.  (Link to My most recent interview with Paula).

45814940_925459804312265_618667168287948800_n.jpg

There will be conduct issues, though no doubt, they will decrease as more females enter the arena.  There will be the need to turn a blind eye to criticism about needing to leave a meeting at 5pm.  There will be no more midnight meetings.  That’s not good for anyone.

So we have two experienced leaders interested in mentoring females into the role.  We have the talent already out in our community  It’s time to have those conversations with our friends, whanau and networks, and break down the barriers so that in 2019 we can vote in a more representative council.

Heads up to SAVE THE DATE for the evening of International Women’s Day 2019, for an evening dedicated to celebrating great leaders and supporting more.

**Note.  This piece stands separate to many many other conversations that need to be had if we are genuinely wanting a representative democracy.  It doesn’t include voting decisions, ethnic representation and doesn’t include the evidence showing the benefits of diversity in decision making. I’m not telling you to vote for women, because they are women.  I’m not implying they make better decisions – I’m suggesting to empower everyone to feel valued in society they have to feel they can participate.  Today’s conversation was based on barriers to women standing.  Next time, will be a different focus.  Feel free to contribute now.  I think ultimately we want the same – and that is to influence the world around us positively – in all the flavours that that might entail.

Open letter to the Waikato Regional Council to pay contractors a Living Wage

“A Living Wage is the income necessary to provide workers and their families with the basic necessities of life. The Living Wage enables workers to live with dignity and to participate as active citizens in society”.   

Please take a minute to sign this Open letter to the Waikato Regional Council to pay contractors a Living Wage.  

Why does this matter to me and you?  I personally don’t understand how employers can justify not paying employees what it costs to live.  Unfortunately our government allows this to happen by legislating a minimum wage – which is far lower than what people need to pay their bills.  It will take leadership and political will to address this, and we’re starting with local councils.  If you’re already on a Living Wage that’s great – please help support this for your friends and whanau.  If you aren’t on a Living Wage yet, signing will start a flow on effect.  You can find out more about bringing this movement to your workplace on Living Wage Aotearoa’s website.

We have to acknowledge the Waikato Regional Council already pay directly employed staff a Living Wage – so this open letter is to ask them to extend to contractors, like bus drivers and cleaners.  Rumour has it the Waikato District Health Board is about to pilot a Living Wage, which is fantastic.  Unfortunately Hamilton City Council is lagging a little behind – but let’s hope they are watching Wellington City Council who became accredited this year.   Tautoko this movement. 

25289705_1030763190395656_7251631741374330042_n.jpg

Episode 105 – Hamilton residents and ratepayers association and Albi & the Wolves

This week Ray from the Hamilton residents and ratepayers association joined us to talk about the association, their priorities and how we can get involved if we are equally concerned about Council’s spending of ratepayer money.

We are joined by Chris Dent, from Auckland based band Albi & the Wolves ahead of their gig at Nivara Lounge next week.

40665918_2176420982616343_6045128140831850496_n.jpg

Episode 104 – Chlöe Swarbrick – Green Party MP on mental health and civic participation

In this podcast we are joined by Chlöe Swarbrick from the Green Party of Aotearoa.   She is their spokesperson for Mental Health, Drug Law Reform, Education, Arts and Heritage, Tertiary Education, Small Business, Broadcasting, Youth and Local Government.

I invited her onto the show to talk about her current priorities – which are within drug reform and mental health but also to share ways she thinks we might improve participation in local body politics.  If you don’t have time to listen to the hour long podcast you can skip to the 10 min mark, with the interview lasting approximately 15 minutes. 17798927_453663108302667_3009415273109823992_n.jpg

Chlöe entered politics in 2016, running for the Auckland Mayoralty as a result of not hearing the issues she, and other young people thought were important.  While unsuccessful at the time she undoubtedly helped young people see the relevance of local councils in decisions that effect us day to day.

Listen to the podcast – you’ll also hear songs from local band Looking for Alaska, Auckland’s Albi & the Wolves, Tauranga based Kokomo and local artist Rubita.