Now you're a councillor

Now you're a councillor

A site for women councillors in Victorian local government

Stay true to your values …

Cr Meg Edwards, South Gippsland Shire council.  Councillor Edwards was elected to South Gippsland Shire Council in 2016.  In addition to council, Meg is mum to 2 young children, a farmer and partner in business.

There is A LOT to take in in the first 6-9 months of council – while learning the ropes, passing the first budget, and four year council plan you are making decisions which affect people’s lives both now and in the long term. 

I’ve found that by articulating why I believe my position is in the best interests of the whole council long term, treating each decision as independent from the next and other people with respect even when we disagree, earns wider respect in the community.

In coming to a position, in addition to council briefings, and as part of my own research I seek out anybody who might be impacted by a decision even if council hasn’t identified them. Sometimes they might not even be aware of an item before council. It doesn’t mean I will vote in their favour necessarily, but it does mean I’ve taken as many perspectives into account as I can and weighed up the long term result of a decision. There will always be people benefitting and adversely impacted by council decisions.

My advice

In addition to getting yourself a mentor, study:

  • the good governance guide
  • your council’s local laws (meeting procedures)
  • visit or watch online where possible other councils’ meetings – particularly if they are made up of a majority of experienced Councillors
  • the current council plan
  • read and understand the current adopted budget and long term financial plan
  • call items out that are outside your comfort zone of what is appropriate yet do so in a reflective, respectful and responsive way
  • keep a good note system – I use Microsoft OneNote so that I can electronically search and it’s with me on all devices