Author and election campaign expert Ruth McGowan OAM was in the city this week to help potential candidates and supporters prepare for the 2021 Local Government Elections at Council’s Get Elected workshop.
Ms McGowan, author of Australia’s first national campaign guide Get Elected, and a former mayor and councillor, provided attendees with practical tips and tools to plan their campaign.
A firm believer in the importance of diversity in the council chamber, Ms McGowan said she’s hoping to see more women and people from diverse backgrounds elected to Wagga Wagga City Council in 2021.
“Many women have the skills necessary to be great councillors and mayors, but aren’t sure how to translate that into a campaign that helps them get elected,” Ms McGowan said.
Ms McGowan’s workshop provided attendees with practical tools on managing a campaign, such as budgets, electoral expenditure obligations, developing electoral material, maximising social media, respectful and ethical campaigning, and fundraising tips.
Manager Governance and Risk Ingrid Hensley was pleased with the success of Council’s election workshops.
“We’ve now had three well-attended workshops, and this was a great way to finish off our candidate information sessions, providing practical tips from someone with political experience and explaining more complex areas of politics such as group tickets and how voting works, including preferences,” Ms Hensley said.
Ms McGowan explained the motivation behind her popular how-to book, Get Elected.
“There’s no campaign school to go to, so I wrote Get Elected to help lift the number of women in politics at the local, state and federal level,” Ms McGowan said.
“It’s particularly important for NSW because it has the lowest female representation in the country for women in local government.
“Local government is the level of government closest to the people, and it works best when we represent the people.
“I’d love to see great candidates running for Wagga Wagga City Council, whether they’re young or old, men or women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people from culturally diverse backgrounds, people with disability – because when we have that diversity at the table, we know we get better decisions.
“I’m hoping that, come September 5 or 6, when we look around the chamber at Wagga Wagga City Council, the faces we see are representative of the faces we see down the street.”
If you’re considering running for Council, but aren’t quite ready to take the plunge, Ms McGowan recommends supporting one of this year’s candidates.
“If you’ve got a passion and an interest in running for politics … I’d encourage you to get on someone else’s campaign and get some experience.
“You can help that candidate with door knocking, hand out their cards at the booths; you can be a scrutineer and see how preferences work.
“Being a candidate is an art and a science, so get in there, because we’ve got a fantastic democracy. Whether you’re a candidate or on a team, it’s great to learn how politics works.”