I must agree, it would seem rather premature to be blogging about next May’s local elections, but as there have been some interesting recent developments in my own ward (St. Lukes) I felt it worth commenting on. Unlike last year, when the main candidates were not revealed until rather late on, we now know the Labour and Conservative candidates for St. Lukes: Donna Richardson and Del Thomas respectively, who have in the past two weeks have set up Facebook pages: St. Lukes Voice and St. Luke’s Ward respectively.
I have always felt it is a feather in any candidate’s cap when they try to get to know the ward they wish to be elected in early on and especially when they try to ascertain and deal with residents concerns. Sadly, too few do this, yet both Del and Donna have begun to do so and I anticipate a lot more to come. I wish both well and feel confident both will make fine councilors if elected. One thing I would like to do is to help to arrange a local hustings so residents can do a compare and contrast on the candidates (something I have done in the past, although not recently due to lack of local support).
I have only recently got to know Donna and so far she has impressed, both politically and in her seeking to serve local residents. I have no doubt she will serve well if elected. Del I have known for a long time, and while we don’t always see eye to eye, I can think of few who I would place ahead of him concerning community spirit, especially when it comes to helping the homeless and other marginalized groups. Both will be seeking to unseat the sitting “Independent” councilor, Brian Ayling. As with Del, there have been occasional differences and I can see strengths and weaknesses – the recent hiatus over Brian’s expenses hasn’t helped. To Brian’s credit though, he has supported many community initiatives in the ward, is active in Council committees and does get involved sorting out residents issues, and I have generally come to appreciate his gentlemanly conduct and willingness to engage.
As folk who read my blogs know, I tend to NOT vote according to the national or local mood and I see national and local elections differently since they deal with a different set of issues, and even then I put more store on the individual than the party they represent. I have not decided whether to support Del, Donna or Brian (or anyone else who places their hat in the ring), but one thing to be sure (and I have told the candidates this) my record is when I do support a given individual, they invariably go onto lose. It is going to be long haul between now and next May and I look forward to unfolding developments. The stakes are high, not just because the May elections will determine whether or not the current rainbow coalition will get to regain a majority but because the needs of the town are great and we need good councillors to help address them.