This month marks one year since I was elected as a councillor. The experience has been both rewarding and challenging and I thank everyone who voted for me. I like to think I’ve not been to bad I know I’m not perfect but I like to think I’ve had some positive influence in some of my residents lives and beyond.
So I thought I’d take this opportunity to highlight some of the highs and lows of my time so far.
There is a time and place for dancing-let me just explain some of the background to this one. It had been a long and emotional campaign for me, my sons Grandmother who lived in the ward had fallen ill and sadly passed away this had taken its toll on my son and his mother. When it came to the evening of the count I was a bag of nerves. Myself and the other candidates were called to the front and I was shown the results I was overcome with emotion, I thought of my late ex mother in law I thought of my late father and grandfather who were both proud labour men and I thought how they would feel. Now anyone who knows me knows I’m a very expressive person and in a spontaneous act when I was announced as the winner I performed some impromptu body popping. Now this was not meant as any disrespect to the other candidates it was just a spontaneous act. I know this did not go down well with some people. A couple of days after the election I was speaking to a friend in town when a young lady with her said ” I know you, your the dancing councillor” she had been one of the tellers at the count and she thought my little dance was the highlight of the evening. So I guess that was my first lesson you can’t please all the people all the time.
Its about the people that’s the key– A lot of the time when a resident comes to you they may have approached other agencies or may feel you are a last resort. I have had some residents approach me with some truly heartbreaking case work and my proudest moments have been being able to help them in some way.
Expect the unexpected– At times I’ve been involved in incidents not in the usual responsibility of a councillor from stray horses to attending a car crash, from breaking up fights to amateur arson investigation I’ve had lots of varied things to keep me busy.
Being recognised still takes some getting used to– It still seems surreal when I go to introduce myself to people and they say “we know who you are” or when I’ve had people approach me in Asda or walking though town. At the moment most of them have nice things to say.
You need thick skin– Most people have nice things to say about the work I’ve done. I’ve even had compliments from some opposition councillors. But not everyone has been so complementary to say the least. I’ve had some personal attacks and pretty pathetic name calling but as I said earlier you can’t please all the people all the time and I guess I’ve been called much worse.
It can take it’s toll on your personal life– it is very demanding and can be hard to balance work private life and council life. Its not the sole reason but the demands of my extra responsibility did contribute to the breakdown of my relationship.
It opens doors to other organisations– though being a councillor it has given me the chance to represent the people of Ipswich on the police and crime panel, it has been a great privilege to work with ISCRE and also being involved with the North West BLT.
Its been great to involve my son– My teenage son has attended some functions with me, I’ve been impressed with his maturity and glad of the chance to introduce him to so many aspects of local government and what is happening in our home town. One of the highlights was when we got to meet the GB and Spanish Olympic gymnastic teams and Clinton got to show off his Spanish skills.
So as a year has passed by I still very much feel like I have a lot to learn and I’m confidant that the skills I have and the contribution I make will benefit not just my residents but the wider town.