I have been asked a lot recently how much I enjoy being a Councillor. The first set of questioners are our recently selected candidates who I meet at social events and campaigning. Yesterday, the legal team at the Council I serve as a Councillor asked me to describe life as a new Councillor.
It is really difficult to describe.
The most similar life experience was my first year as a mother. I spent it fretting, tired, anxious I would make a mistake. Loving her and desperately keen to be the best I could be. I didn’t relax once. I never felt like I was doing enough, doing it right and never ever got enough sleep or saw my friends as much as I used to. I guess this could be unique to me…or maybe others if they looked back would say the same. The learning curve is enormous, no matter how closely you have observed others doing it. Until you have that responsibility, you don’t know how it will impact you. Then too, all the photos are me smiling!
The joy I do get from the role is the wins, making changes even from the back benches in opposition. You can achieve a lot. I love doing the rough sleeping ward surgeries and giving people a democratic voice who most need it. I love supporting those on the front line of food poverty by keeping this emergency high on our political agenda. I like that I can investigate concerns that people raise and see action taken. I like the solidarity with activists at our campaigns and socials. I like working with politicians from all parties – they are all highly motivated civic people and that unites us in common purpose.
I found it hard to walk through protests, even the friendlier ones..but I am more used to that now and would defend their right to protest. It was just surreal walking through it. I find some of the theatre and insults of full council debate exhausting although I do see them in proportion and I know they are not personal/
I am well aware that here in Brighton nobody can take anything for granted. I won by handful of votes. I determined to work as hard as possible in case these few years are all I get to make an impact.
The feedback I have had as a result of these discussions is that I am positive, extremely hardworking, unconventional (if anyone can tell me the conventions beyond never, ever hide behind officers please do), digital, savvy.
I asked twitter if they had questions and here is a storify of the Q&A
Please add questions or your own experiences of what behind the scenes as a councillor is like…perhaps we can persuade more people to put themselves forward?