Despite gaining the right to vote in 1893, it was still 26 years later in 1919 that the Women’s Parliamentary Rights Act was passed, finally allowing women to stand for election in the House of Representatives. This year there are 4 women running for their spot at Mayor, among them is Paula Southgate. We spoke with Paula about running for mayor, being a woman candidate and how voters can ensure a Hamilton City Council that represents them.

Tell us about yourself!

I am a passionate and fun-loving Hamiltonian who has lived here for over 40 years. I raised my wonderful family here.  I went to Hamilton Girl’s High and the University of Waikato. My background is in Teaching and Counselling. I have been an elected Local Government member for 18 years.

I have been the Chairperson of the Waikato Regional Council and held many roles of responsibility at a local, regional and national level. I’m now the Chair of Community Services and Environment.

I work hard and love the time I spend working in and for the community, but I play hard too. I presently do Ballroom and Latin dancing. I go to the gym (when I can get up early enough), love theater, movies and river walks to any of the great local cafes.

Why have you decided to only run for Mayor this year?

I have the experience, commitment and a passion to lead a more open, inclusive and respectful Council. I want to create a Council that uses the skills and aspirations of all elected members, and the wider community to build a strong future.

With over 25 years of community services and 18 years of local government leadership under my belt, including many roles at responsibility at a local, regional and national level, I am ready to step up and lead the city forward.

I have shown that I have the skills to develop key relationships with local communities and in Wellington. I am known take balanced view and to be fair AND I can make, and have made, tough decisions.

Having missed out by such as tiny margin (lowest ever in NZ) in the last election, I have been encouraged by so many to stand again. I’m a person that gives 110% to my work and local community and I feel that as Mayor I can use my full potential to benefit the city.

If voted in, what are the main policies you will be pushing?

To rebuild the confidence and respect of the public and strengthen opportunities for communities to be heard.

To grow Hamilton in a way that sets us up for success and a quality lifestyle for ALL Hamiltonians.

To control the finances and costs and, keep rate fair and affordable.

Practically, how will you do this?

I have comprehensive policies on my website on all of these issues but here are a few ideas to kick off with:

  • Reinstate opportunities for young people (rangatahi), seniors, ethnic communities and the arts community to have a regular voice at Council through focused sector hubs. This will be designed with them to better meet their needs and Councils.
  • Use more tools and methods of public participation beyond existing formal submissions and online surveys. For example; regular Community Open Days and improved social media and App based engagement.
  • I want all Hamiltonians to have access to appropriate and affordable housing. While we must build quality, attractive and liveable higher density options, we must focus on building quality communities, not just more houses. A strong future for Hamilton rests on us meeting the needs of a diverse population through sustainable, community-focused development.”

Set fair, reasonable and affordable limits for rates and rates increases based on sound long term planning and stick to them.

  • Rebalance spending to focus on the top priorities, community need and Council’s core functions such as maintenance of existing assets (pools, parks, libraries and footpaths, stormwater).
  • Plan carefully for the future and prioritise and implement plans that YOU – the ratepayer – support and understand, including existing projects and responding to city growth.
  • Hold the Chief Executive to account for the promised $82M organisational savings over 10 years without harming service levels or long-term outcomes.

It was only 100 years ago that women gained the right to be elected representatives, what do you think about the number of women being elected into politics right now?

I am heartened by the number of fabulous, dedicated and skilled women stepping forward this time. Is it enough? I don’t know, time will tell.  At this time, voters need to take time to consider what the women candidates offer and get in behind those that they feel can represent them and do the job well. There is plenty of choice, skill and experience in the mix this time.  I, myself will vote for a number of women and talk with my networks to encourage them to consider the women.

What do you think voters need to do this election to ensure that Hamilton City Council represents them?

There things voters can do to ensure they are well represented:

  1. Take some time to know about the candidates ( do not rely on 150 words in the booklet)
  2. Get along to a public meeting if you can; nothing beats seeing candidates speak
  3. Vote and post or deliver that vote!

If you would like to find out more about Paula, or support her running for council you can pop over to Facebook here or you’ll find her website here. Paula also encourages you to say hello and give her a call on 021 207 319 38