As the local elections approach we are seeing more and more incredible women pop up in campaigns to join the Hamilton City Council. One of these amazing women is Anna Smart, a local real estate agent and prominent volunteer and advocate in the Hamilton community. We asked Anna all about her campaign, and why young women should be getting more involved in politics.

Tell us about yourself? Who are you as a person?

I’m a local real estate agent where I work as part of a team with my husband Dave. We live in Queenwood and have three children, Sophie, Joey and Emmy.. we’ve also got two dogs and three cats so it’s a busy house hold! We love to spend time together as a family and get outside in the natural environment. What I love about Hamilton is that you don’t have to go far to get into a green space, some of our favourite spaces are Tauhara Park and Days Park. I’m a big fan of coffee and keep myself fit by working out at F45 which pushes me outside of my comfort zone on a daily basis!

What made you want to run in this local election?

I love this city and am passionate about its people.  In my work as a real estate agent we are in and out of people’s houses and see the direct impact of the decisions made by the local and central governments on a daily basis. Our city has a lot of change on the horizon and key decisions to make in terms of growth. I want to ensure that those decisions are made with the best interests of all our residents in mind, that we are strengthening our current communities while also building future communities with a holistic approach to wellbeing.

I have done a wide range of activities to give back to the community including volunteering at the Citizens Advice Bureau, being a founding member of the Rototuna Business Network and in the school community as deputy chair of the PTA at Te Totara Primary and now Board of Trustees member at Rototuna High Schools. It would be a privilege to be a voice for the community around the Council table.

On a personal level, the Women in Politics events held (including the one here at the YWCA) which helped support me to making the decision, and my business and children are at a stage where if I’m successful I can give the role of City Councillor the 110% effort the position deserves.

Having been so involved in the community, what changes will you make if you win?

When you are around the council table you are one voice of twelve so as an individual you don’t have the capacity to promise individual changes. What I do promise is to listen to the community that I represent and ensure their needs are vocally expressed around the table and heard as part of any decisions made.

As I write this the first of three rates increases starts and all residents will be noticing the impact either through our rates or our rent. The Council has a responsibility to spend ratepayers money wisely, and with transparency around decision making.

Do you think it’s important for more women to run in local elections? And why?

Every sector of the community needs a voice and at the moment we clearly don’t have a wide representation of the community in the current council. It’s about balance, and women bring a unique perspective to decision making process. We’re one half of the population, and I’d love to see 50/50 representation. What’s really great is that there are some strong, awesome women who have put their hands up this time around and it’s exciting to see.

What is your message for young women who don’t think of politics as a priority?

I’d say to those young women that what you have to say matters, that your voice matters and you have value to add to the conversation because your perspective is just as relevant. We all make the fabric of our community and the decisions made at local government level impact on all of us. I think there’s a perception that politics happens despite you, not because of you. I think there’s a perception that politics happens despite you, not because of you and that just isn’t true. There are ways to get involved (connecting with the YWCA is a great start!), and I’m free anytime for a coffee to catch up with anyone who wants someone to hear what they have to say and run ideas through.

How can people learn more about you and your campaign?

The best thing to do is get in touch and I’ll shout you a coffee! I’m very keen to hear from residents and chat with people and groups about their concerns and passions in this city. My website is my contact details and you can connect with me on Facebook – and twitter @annasmartnz.

Supporting women in politics is important for YWCA Hamilton because we believe that there should be equality between genders everywhere within our community. We encourage you to keep an eye out for these #WomanCrushWednesday posts to see who is running in the Waikato as well as doing your own research for who is running in your ward. And if you can’t find someone to vote for who aligns with your values – maybe it’s time for you to enter politics.