Here are a few tips and wisdom put together with advice from a range of women councillors.
Communicating within council…
Build relationships with colleague councillors, the CEO and executive officers
Take individual councillors you haven’t met out for a coffee, get to know their interests
Be a team player, others will respect you for it
Learn the formal meeting procedures. Put in the time and effort, and take any opportunity to learn how to make use of these to your advantage. It’s at council meetings where your decisions and views count the most
Do the homework to be decisive. One needs to be informed and to know the law
….and with residents
Return phone calls. Constituents rarely ring their councillor, so prompt attention to their concerns is important. Keep phone calls to 15 minutes, you should be able to be deal with most issues within this time
Always wear your name-tag whenever you are being a councillor. People who ought to know who you are will never be embarrassed and neither will you, as you will be recognised
Set up an office space with a filing system, a computer, internet access and mobile phone
Request council business cards with your photo
Remember why you became a councillor and hold onto your ideals
Always be civil and polite. Never put another person down no matter how tempting. This gains respect. Sound off frustration privately
You are now a public figure in your local community. Decide how you want to be, for example, if you are in the supermarket or at your daughter’s sport match, how will you respond when approached by a constituent?
Communicating with the media…
Know your council’s media policy
If you have been contacted for comment, you may need time to get more information or consider the request. If so, end the call politely. Think. Ring back in 5 minutes
Become savvy about new technology
Use the section on traditional and social media on this website
…and in general
Be scrupulously honest in expense claims
Decide to drink little or no alcohol at council dinners and other functions. More than a glass and your mind loses its edge. This lessens your chances of regretting something said or done
Councillors often gain weight during their first term. Find ways to look after your health!