Last year on 8 July 2010 I was appointed as an Alliance Party Councillor on North Down Borough Council for the Holywood DEA replacing Dr David Alderdice. A year on I feel it's appropriate to look back on achievements and experiences to date and towards the future.
Since becoming a Councillor my life has been transformed, all my spare time has been zapped, sleep is a luxury and my home is now Holywood after moving from Bangor in February 2011.
Whilst demanding I still enjoy the role. Over the last year I have become more acquainted with more people, personalities, procedures and policies and think I have managed to establish myself as a credible elected representative.
Strictly speaking the key function of a Councillor is to scrutinize and sometimes present proposals, take decisions and generally ensure good governance at North Down Borough Council. This aspect of the job often goes unnoticed but is extremely important and involves working together with other Councillor's, political parties, Council officers and relevant stakeholders to reach decisions whilst adhering to and pursuing Alliance Party vision and values.
Another aspect of the job is to deal with constituents concerns and act as their advocate. I get great satisfaction from meeting and helping people and have, to date, diligently dealt with hundreds of casework items including some very bizarre cases, some tragic personal stories and some very difficult subjects.
In addition to this I have responsibility to provide Civic Leadership. I strive to provide this in a diplomatic and effective manner, often away from the glare of the media, and intend to grasp a few more nettles over the next year.
It remains challenging to perform all these duties whilst holding a full time job, involved in many other organisations and also pursuing a number of campaigns such as Save our Reservoirs, Bicycle friendly Borough and Stop Kinnegar Sewage Pollution but the work will continue.
The highlight of my first year was, of course, my election on 5 May 2011 elected on the first count with 991 first preference votes alongside my running mate Cllr Larry Thompson.
From appointment until election I worked hard Leading Change and delivering many successes, including, for example, practical actions to build a Shared Society such as Holywood YOUnites Festival, investment circa £3m planned to deal with Kinnegar sewage pollution problem, sale of Portavo Reservoir temporarily halted and some smaller things such as facelift for Seapark and variety of efforts to increase Holywood's chances of regaining Best Kept Town status.
All of this, including, most importantly my election, wouldn't have been possible without the support of others including my partner Alan, Mum and Stepdad, Grandparents, campaign activists such as Mary, Roger, Irene, JP, party colleagues and the people of Holywood who placed their trust in me on 5 May 2011.
Following my election I intend to continue Leading Change. The status quo is no longer acceptable. The challenge ahead is to transform society towards a real Shared, Prosperous, Clean and Green, Safe, Healthy and Creative Future where politics works, businesses grow and people are enabled to reach their full potential.