The perception seems to be that politicians require an inaccessible combination of intelligence, connections and sheer bastardry. Then we vote them in and call them dumb, corrupt and the other thing.
I prefer to take the view that we get what we choose to put up with. Translation: not putting ourselves forward means being partly responsible for the results. Even if the thought is daunting.
There is a theory that anything is possible if the commitment is there. As was recently described in context of a bungy jump, the hardest part is definitely in the decision to jump.
The most memorable question I was asked during the mayoral campaign last year was delivered with a powerful mix of derision and genuine curiosity.
Having only just announced my candidacy, I was lunching with five others when one of them turned to me, looked over his glasses and down his nose and said, “So Steph, just what exactly do you hope to get out of this?”
It was devastatingly clear that an answer along the lines of “to be Mayor of Geelong” was not even remotely on his radar.
A humbling moment indeed. I suspect there is little chance of my ego ever becoming uncontrollable with friends like that.
I am also still regularly asked, usually in the slightly exasperated tone used for small children, why I didn’t just run for a council position instead of going for the “top job”. Short answer: as the primary earner for a family of five, with a 20-year professional career, it’s simply not an affordable or appropriate aspiration to spend 20-30 hours a week earning less than $30,000.
So what was running for mayor all about? Yes, it offered a logical and exciting career step but it was also an opportunity to put my money where my mouth is and try to make a difference. In harmony with most of the participants of the Leaders for Geelong program, the consistent song being sung is about how to get things moving in our region.
I can confidently attest that the mayoral role is one for which a significant percentage of graduates of that leadership program are well qualified. Equally, federal or state politics if anyone feels inclined.
Yes, there are the inevitable confidence-shattering comments during a campaign but there is too little time to dwell on negatives. There is simply too much preparation to do, passionate people to meet and conversations to have.
There is currently a call out for young people to enrol to vote. I’ll go a step further and urge a few keen beans to stand for election. There is still time and we need more choice and more diversity in our representation.
At the very least I think we should all put in a considered vote, but I look forward to seeing more candidates in future.
Authorised by P Kelly 10 O’Farrell Place Geelong Vic 3220