From volunteer, to Council election candidate!

What made me after 16 years of volunteering in my local community, register to be a candidate in the upcoming Local Government elections? There isn’t one defining moment that I can pin point and say that’s it, that’s why! Instead it was an idea that started to gain momentum after listening over many years to the experiences of many people across the Shire, and experiencing first hand the complex processes and procedures, the inaction from some councillors, and the general feeling that we the residents of the shire were not being listened to. More effective independent community representation is needed, our community needs a stronger voice on Council asking for a transparent, accountable, service minded, consultative and collaborative organisation. So, how do I turn the this idea into reality?

Action –  elections were originally set to the 4th September, I didn’t have much time to get ready, with no idea where to start or what to do, I called around and asked as many people, as many questions as I could think of, who would have known that if you want to have even a slim chance of being elected you need to form a group, this group has to be three or more people so that you can get a box above the line on the ballot paper. Again, I should not have been surprised at the complexity of the process, we are talking about government after all. 

Things needed to move fast, I asked my likeminded volunteer colleagues on the board at Sutherland Shire Football Association if they would support me. Of course they said yes, with three available positions in the E Ward and being up against the big brands, it will be a huge effort to get the lead candidate (me) elected, let alone my 2nd and 3rd. I was told I needed a group name, well sport is something I am extremely passionate about, it brings the community together, its great for mental and physical well being and we have over 37+ different sports across the shire, so the name Shire Sports Independents was registered along with the three candidates, Laura Cowell (me) being the lead, Matt Brady 2nd on the ballot paper and Giulio Di Stefano 3rd. 

Seeing it all coming together, I started getting asked the questions Is Football (Soccer) looking to take over Council? No, Football (soccer) is not looking to take over the council, as I mentioned before we will be lucky to get the lead candidate elected in the three positions available in E Ward, there will be 15 elected councillors across 5 wards, Liberal, Labor, Independents & Greens are all running, in hindsight, given how important perception is, would I have changed the name or the people supporting me and the community with this election? No, we are who we are, volunteers dedicated to our community, we are more than ‘sport’, we are community minded, volunteers, fundraisers, employees, business owners, ratepayers & residents of the Shire who want to make a difference, we want continuous improvement, better support, accountability, inclusiveness, we want change!

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, with no big brand behind us the paperwork, campaign funding, ideas, design, photos, message – what are we standing for, is all managed by me, I am self funded, I truly believe that if I want to serve the community, I need to put my money where my mouth is, I will only be accountable to the community as a whole not any individual or organisation.  6 weeks to go until elections, excellent everything was done and we were on the home stretch, of course safety comes first and due to the COVID19 pandemic elections were postponed until 4th December, we had a whopping 20 weeks before election day. All the work with the paperwork, flyers that were delivered, letters that were printed but couldn’t be sent due to the wrong date being on them, all scrapped , we needed to start again. For the past 15 weeks, I have consistently been getting the message out to our community that we are an independent group running in E Ward, this had to be done online, via the phone and in mailboxes, in the next 5 weeks I will be out and about saying hello to our community and doing my best to ensure that everyone knows the options that they have for election day, so that you can make an informed decision on who you want as your voice on your council. 

If you want to know more about me you can contact me by email laura@lauracowell.com, find me on FB at @lauracowellindependent or www.shiresportsindependents.com.au – from my family to yours, stay healthy and safe, and vote 1 Laura Cowell (above the line) on December 4th, 2021

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