After election, watch and listen initially to see where others stand. Chats over coffee with other councillors can help understand their perspectives and skills.  Ask advice from trusted people who know the politics but are not embroiled.

Build support 

To win a vote you need a majority of council to support you, preferably including the mayor.

Look for allies.  Councils touch many bases so you may find common ground on some issues and projects with some other councillors.  Sometimes they modify their views over time, so keep at it. Build up support before an issue is voted on.

Value council staff for their expertise and institutional knowledge and work with them to achieve change.

Encourage colleagues to attend conferences (and not just the supportive councillors), visit other councils and places. Visiting speakers can help to shift views and broaden horizons.

Encourage individuals and community groups with views similar to yours to submit to council.

Support may come from unlikely sources – keep talking to people in the community.

Earn respect 

Stay engaged, even if disenchanted, and takes your share of the workload.

Be well-prepared and well-informed – look for solutions.  Research the issues so that your input is evidence based.

Being constructive, clear and consistent is more effective than dour, relentless or strident.  At times a light touch is effective, and humour is always good for relieving tension.

Don’t be afraid to state your views, even though you know that they may be unpopular with others.  People respect you for speaking out.

Take the long view

Find someone to talk to – and laugh with – to maintain perspective as you reflect on council dynamics. 

Be selective which issues you work on so that you do not waste time and energy on hopeless causes.  Realise that change can take a long time in local government. If the issues are important to you, keep at it. 

Ultimately, you need to assess the prospects for change and decide if you wish to continue or whether your energies would be better placed elsewhere.

Encourage like-minded people to stand for council thus building up your support base.