I was recently talking to someone who works with people with chaotic lifestyles at an event. she commented to me “I hope this doesn’t offend you but you don’t look like a councillor” she also said she felt this was a good thing. People have a perception of what Councillors look like they see them as white middle age and middle class and statistics probably support this assumption. During our conversation the lady I was speaking to was saying how people sometimes have a believe that councillors may come from a gifted life and background, and that by speaking to me they can see that people from all backgrounds can get involved and anyone can aspire to contribute.
This is not the first time my appearance has been commented on as not being what people assume a Councillor looks like. When I had my first foray into local politics a by-election in St Margaret I got to take part in some local radio interviews, I expected to be grilled on local issues but was taken aback when the interview turned to my appearance the fact I looked youngish (I am now 40) my dress sense and liking for hats and my tattoos. Also my perceived attractiveness was brought up as a resident had commented that she would vote for me because of my looks (of course being modest I am average at best but someone did once comment that politics was showbusiness for ugly people)
I suppose what I’m trying to say is no mater what peoples perception of councillors are we are living in changing times and its important that the elected officials who represent us reflect the community’s they represent. Its important that councillors can bring real world knowledge and expertise to decisions making and also understand the challenges and issues their residents face.
On this subject I had the pleasure of being part of the selection panel choosing some of the new candidates for the upcoming county council elections and bough by-election. Now I wouldn’t say the local labour group are perfect but we have a pretty good mix of councillors from a range of backgrounds ages and life experience and are far more diverse then our local rivals. And the diversity of our membership really showed in the candidates we had to choose from, sadly for some there were more candidates then seats and this is a reflection of the passion people have to get involved. I left the session feeling very impressed at pool of talent we had and the fact that these very different people come together with the shared vision of trying to help their community’s.
What next if you have read this and some of my other post why not get involved yourself. It does require commitment and can be a juggling act of professional and personal life but the rewards are amazing. The feeling of making a positive impact and changing someone life is worth the extra hours.
For impartial advice on what is involved check out the local govt www.beacouncillor.org.uk website
Or if you would like more information on Ipswich Labour
Tel (01473) 255131