I come from a family that has many healthy conversations around the dinner table. Many of these lead to topics of battling unfairness and inequality and all-round setting the world to rights. Our views are all very different but it is this diversity that has challenged me and helped me to grow. These are the foundations for where I am today.
While I was quieter and shyer when young, I have always had my say and enjoyed thinking about current issues and concerns. Never in my dreams did I see myself as a councillor, Waikato Regional Council Chair or mayor. My political career transpired because I care about my community, the people, the environment and the city.
From an early age, my values and passion were influenced by the key women in my life, in particular, my grandmother who I lived with as a child. I recall my grandma, Eveline Smith, attending council meetings way back when Margaret Evans was Mayor. Margaret fought for what she believed in and didn't give up. She successfully petitioned a covered bus stop and service to the Hamilton Cemetery. She fought to establish a group called ADARDS (now Dementia Waikato) to support those caring for those with dementia. She fought for footpaths, bus stops and parks. And as an aside, learned to swim at age 80 at our fabulous Waterworld facility.
As many people know, my mum Margaret still keeps an eye on council activities and takes a keen interest in Hamilton East. She and my family have been my key supporters since the beginning.
When I reflect on why I am where I am today and why I put my hand up for mayor, I can see that it is because of values that have developed over my lifetime and good people who have encouraged me.
Politics is a hard game, rewarding and challenging. I am led by my values, believing that everyone has the same rights to opportunities and ability to thrive in our city. Everyone deserves encouragement and support as I have had.
I am not special. I have learned through experience and hard work. I have had many key role models, people who I have respected and learned from. As this election draws to a close I thank everyone who has stood behind me. Strength always comes from working together.
I am excited to see some awesome younger women stepping forward and I hope that they will be elected and have the same opportunities to shape our place as I have. If I am elected, I look forward to creating a great team with a range of views, value and ideas.
And for those who have asked to know more about me: I love dancing, dark chocolate, good red wine, hot pools, movies, my friends and family, and our fabulous city.