Thursday, July 17, 2008

A (Very) Short Career in Politics: Pt 2

Hmmm...serious bit of bad soap opera, leaving you hanging like that - I didn't plan it that way! That's no way to treat my 17 remaining patient and dedicated subscribers; "Love youse all!" as a particularly articulate (not) Aussie boxer is wont to say. (With particular linky love to my dear Cecily, who was egging me on to finish almost before I'd stopped typing...LOL)

So, the phone call.

The party leader is a very nice bloke. We have enjoyed getting to know each other, and kicking around ideas the last few weeks. He sounded distinctly uncomfortable as he told me that certain members of the party, all from one community group, felt that they would be "better represented" on council by another candidate (from their group) who had only just decided he was willing to have a shot at it.

As background to that, this group has been working particularly hard together over nearly two years to represent their village (mine, as it happens) in the fight against a particularly odious development proposed for it (Hardie Holdings - will mean something to the Aussies amongst you). They felt that this candidate had more experience, in this issue, in reading the associated reports and EIR's and DPs and LEPs (Environmental Impact Reports/Development Proposals/Local Environmental Plans) etc...and he did.

(But that is not all Council is about. And I'm a pretty fast learner, for a blonde. But I digress...)

Plus, this group discussed it amongst themselves, without raising it at the party meetings. It only came out in a private conversation with the party leader, the day after our last meeting, which lead to his phone call. So much for increased transparency and honesty, the bedrock of our campaign for council!

My initial feelings were of anger and defiance. I told him I was not prepared to just quietly back down and wanted to think about it. He was really supportive, very disappointed too at the way this issue had been raised, but able to see both points of view - we both have particular strengths as candidates, and either would make a good running partner from his point of view. Also, and importantly, the community groups form the support team for this little local party - any bad feelings or dissent risks undermining the whole team. We agreed that, unless either one of us was prepared to back down, we should put the #2 slot to a secret ballot of the party at the next meeting as the fairest way to decide. Since we were all about to go away on holiday, that was nearly 2 weeks away.

The next 24 hours was quite interesting. What had been a little head cold suddenly decided to become laryngitis - with so much to think about and talk about, suddenly I couldn't talk at all! It was great. Everything had come to a screaming halt - and as soon as I realised this, I started to look at why, and to wonder what the message was for me.

That's when I realised how much I was putting on the line if I actually got on Council - my life, and most especially, the wee man's life.

We've been through a lot in the last couple of years, and particularly the last 6 months. I have been very conscious of a certain amount of anger he has felt towards me, as the one he perceives as the instigator of the breakup of his family unit. I understand that, and want to be able to work with him to help him heal those feelings. And I realised that my Council dream would take me further away from him, and give him more reason to be angry at me...and that was the last thing I wanted.

So, a couple of days later, when I had something of a voice I called the party leader back and told him to drop me...waaay down the ticket, where I had no chance of making it onto council. I am still going to run, to support the party and make a group voting ticket possible, and because I believe in what they are trying to achieve, and because it will be a valuable learning experience. There's no sour grapes - I'm still a bit peeved and disappointed at the way the local group handled the matter, but I'm a big girl, and I know politics is always a dirty game...even this close to home.

All the more reason for me to run in 4 years time, when the wee man is much older, and I'm a little wiser, and backed by people I can trust and who can trust me...

A (Very) Short Career in Politics

*Insert copious and effusive apologies for long absence of regular blogging - include butt-kicking etc. Repeat as required.*

Yes, I's been a while. And it wouldn't surprise me if I'm sitting here talking to myself by now - anyone who has had the patience to hang in there waiting to see if I was ever going to show up again needs to facilitate a workshop in patience skills so I can enrol...!

It has been a busy time for me, with the usual committee-related activities spiced with the beginning of the lead-up to the Council elections in September, culminating in the school holidays over the last 2 weeks.

Last week, though, things briefly came to a grinding halt as the combination of a phone call and a (thankfully brief!) bout of laryngitis gave me a couple of quiet days to look carefully at my life and the choices I was making.

A bit over a month ago, mutual acquaintances had put me in touch with a present councillor who was not running again, but was interested in supporting local candidates who were interested in supporting the issues and community groups he had been putting so much energy into. I went along to a meeting and by the end was thrilled that we all seemed to coming from the same place, were fielding a party supported by many local community groups, with values of transparency and community consultation, and the group had offered me number 2 on the ticket. (In the scheme of things, this gave me a reasonably good chance of getting on council - the #1 on a well-supported group ticket usually gets in, and the #2 has perhaps more than a 50% chance of also getting in, depending on preferences.)

We continued to have fortnightly meetings, and shared emails with ideas and layouts for brochures, flyers and manifestos. Together with the leader of the party and the current councillor, I went to several public community meetings throughout the area to hear the issues that galvanised them, and to show support for the difficulties they were facing with the present council. I was flat out, enthused and inspired. The wee man went away for 2 WHOLE WEEKS with his father to visit his father's family, and despite missing him like a constant dull ache, I was really too busy to mope.

Then the phone call, and my full stop...

The call was from the leader of the party.

And now I have to run - stay tuned, I'll be back soon to update you on what happened next.... xxx

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