Councillor Debra Nelson was elected to the Hindmarsh as a new councillor in the October 2012 elections. Debra tells her story about how she decided to stand and what happened next.
I decided to stand for council because I wanted a better deal for our town. There were things I wanted to change and I wasn’t the sort of person to step back and grumble. I thought that if things had to change I would stick my hand up and give it go. I didn’t really expect to be elected. I’m fairly new to town.
There were no women at all on our council but there had been two women elected in the past. I thought that it would be good to have a balance of men and women. Women think differently and I think a balance is good.
I had been involved on committees and community groups such as Town Committee and Residents Action Group, and an active volunteer but I’d never had to campaign, I’d just put my hand up and said I would do it.
(The Think women) forum was really inspirational. It was terrific to hear of experiences from women who were involved in Local Government. It was a very relaxed atmosphere at the forum and I found the women were so friendly and open. I came away feeling much more confident. I thought I would actually like to do this. I was inspired by the stories about making a difference, making a change. The women councillors who were there were so strong and they’d really made a difference and I thought I’d like to do that too. Two of the councillors were also the Mayor of their councils.
I am known for being someone who gets things done and there were a group of people in town who knew I was passionate about making a change. They were used to seeing me out and about doing things.
My campaign was very minimal. I didn’t put out any fliers till the last minute. I didn’t door knock. I didn’t do a lot as I was time poor but I did have a story in the local paper. I didn’t spend much money on the campaign – about 200 dollars on photocopying and 100 dollars on stamps and 150 dollars for a couple of vote 1 adverts in the local newspaper. I consider myself to be a quiet achiever and it would be out of character for me to run a flashy campaign.
I think that at the next election, now that we’ve got three women out of six councillors, it might inspire other women to put their hands up. They might feel more comfortable seeing other women there.
Having equal numbers, it now seems like normal. I hope to see more women standing. I think it’s good to share it around because everyone has something unique to offer.
I don’t know if I would do anything differently. I think you have to be true to yourself.
The Think Women forum was really good and it is important to run this again next time. It’s really important to have forums in rural areas. It’s a bit more isolated than the city and there probably aren’t as many women leaders. It really encouraged me, hearing from such confident and inspirational women.