Bec Ho’s frustrated with the council where she lives in Sydney. She believes it’s ineffective, inefficient, lacking in leadership and plagued by in-fighting.
She’s also concerned about the lack of women represented, with just one woman on the council until the election of a second in 2015. That’s despite the fact there are more than 93,000 women living in the area, compared with just under 90,000 men, with the ABS recently finding that the average Ryde resident is a 37-year-old woman with 1.7 children.
Indeed, there have been so few women represented in the City of Ryde, that a male councillor was named chairperson of the Status of Women committee.
Sounds like something that would occur in Federal politics.
But unlike many people with similar frustrations, Bec (pictured centre in the photo above) decided to do something about it.
Having been involved in the council first hand through her CEO role at Touched By Olivia, which provides inclusive playground facilities for kids with special needs, a couple of months ago she decided she’d had enough.
“I walked out of my last meeting and decided I’d run as an independent in the upcoming council elections,” she said. “I had been so frustrated by the lack of effort to deliver things. I just thought, ‘I’m going to do something. I can’t keep watching this’.”
Bec says it was a steep learning curve, having to learn the logistics of running, and pulling a team together to make it happen.
She’s running as a candidate for East ward, with six women and one man on her group ticket for the City of Ryde, including Maureen Chan in West Ward, Edwina Clifton, Jane Stott and Julie Worseley in Central Ward and Penny Pederson also in East Ward.
“We paid our $500 registration fee and submitted the application at 11 o’clock, when the deadline was 12.”
“We’ll get shit done,” she says. “That’s what I do. I do things for the school, for the charity, I’m about making it happen. I love where I live and I want it to be amazing for my kids. Not over developed. Not being slowed down because of in-fighting at the council level.”
And being a 37-year-old woman with children – just like the area’s most ‘average’ resident – she hopes that come September 9, the council will be better represented by the people it represents.
“My group includes three very active local women who want to make sure our voices are heard, for now and the future of our young daughters.”
Bec’s decision to run also follows the despair she felt being in the United States in November last year. Having just run the New York Marathon, her team later watched the US presidential election results on television, which saw Donald Trump elected. She says the group she was with – including Sean Kearns, a paramedic who’s also on Bec’s ticket — had conversations regarding what they could do to in response, even just in their own communities.
Many of us had those very same conversations.
There are many women like Bec running in NSW local elections next week – they’re fed up and frustrated, but they all took the vital first step in putting themselves forward.