No regrets

Post No. 15 'No regrets' was published on 04 December, 2021.

Today is election day for the 2021 NSW local government elections. It’s been a long, exhausting slog and I’m glad it’s finally over but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I don’t know if I’ll ever be up for it again but I’m glad I gave it a go.

When I first decided to run, I set myself one goal: I didn’t want to finish the campaign with any regrets. I can confidently say I have achieved that. There are certainly some ‘what ifs’ and some things I probably should have done, but there is nothing I regret doing or not doing. I never came into this campaign expecting to win, hell I was just hoping to start a few conversations about car dependency and planned to maybe get a hundred votes but the scale of my campaign has grown a lot since then.

I’ve certainly encountered a lot of opposition in my campaign, which is to be expected when speaking against the norm in our city, but that’s democracy, we’re all entitled to our different opinions and that’s what makes us stronger as a community. I’ve also heard so much positive feedback about my detailed platform, my age, and my enthusiasm for these issues. The keyboard warriors are certainly loud but they definitely aren’t the majority. People are tired of Councillors with no enthusiasm that don’t consult with our community and aren’t clear in what policies they support. I almost certainly won’t be elected tonight but I’m confident I’ve laid the foundations for other people in the future who are young and care about these issues to be successful. I also hope that releasing a detailed policy platform is something that other candidates follow in the future.

I believe that Lake Macquarie is on a better path due to my candidacy. I may have only shifted our city’s direction by a tiny bit but I’m happy with that, there’s only so much one person can do. Achieving change in local government can be a frustrating endeavour, but all it takes is patience and persistence. A few years ago I thought I was beating a dead horse by lobbying the Council to establish a ferry service, but this week they’ve announced that a ferry network will be trialed on the lake next year.

A lot of people have helped out on the campaign trail and I won’t even try to thank all of them but I do want to say thank you to those that helped letterbox flyers, those who put up a corflute in their front yard, and those that even just shared my campaign with a friend. I do want to say a special thank you to Karen and Phil Buckner, without their support this campaign would definitely not have been as successful as it has been. Knowing that there were passionate locals who also believed in my platform was incredibly motivating and gave me a reason to keep working hard on the campaign. They weren’t the only people to lend me their support but they were the first outside my family and friends and that made a big difference.

What’s next for me? Well, I haven’t really thought about it, it’s been a busy few weeks! Whether or not I’m elected, I will continue fighting for more active and public transport in Lake Macquarie. I ran in this election because I want to live in a city where I don’t have to own a car and I can safely and viably walk and cycle everywhere I need to go. I want my hometown of Lake Macquarie to be that city, and I will never stop fighting for that. With my core policy of a Lake Macquarie Ferry being trialed next year, I imagine one of my next projects will be campaigning to make it, first of all, permanent but eventually a public service with much cheaper ticket prices and 7 day a week operation. Having heard from many people that a Lake Macquarie Ferry would never happen, seeing my dream come to fruition is very motivating. I also want to study urban planning at the University of Newcastle, I’ll have to fit that into the schedule somewhere!

It was only about 2 months ago that I decided to run. I was only able to because of the COVID delay as my 18th birthday was after the original election date. This has been an experience that I’ll never forget and I would encourage other people who are passionate about their community and local government issues to give it a go. I’m happy knowing that, no matter what happens tonight, the push for more active and public transport in our city is stronger because of my campaign.