More on the Council election:
A BIG picture person, Australian Labor Party candidate Debra O’Brien says there is a place for party politics in local government.
And, she has announced she will run in the Armidale Regional Council election.
“I am a Labor Party member and a lot of people are talking about that, but I believe that everybody is political,” Ms O’Brien said.
“Everybody has their political affiliations, everyone has their values and beliefs, I’m just happy to wear my colours openly.”
Ground-up decision making, advocacy, sustainability and community self-determination are what she stands for.
For Ms O’Brien, her connections to the Labor Party are an advantage to the town.
“I’m free to make any kind of decisions I want in a local community way, nobody is telling me what to do,” she said.
“But, I have a lot of people I can draw on for their historic knowledge of Council and how things run.”
Ms O’Brien believes Council goes beyond local government, and her connections to higher tiers of government will be valuable in fixing issues specific to Armidale.
“It’s not just what we can do here, it’s how the other tiers of government can support us,” she said.
“We’re not just a little town disconnected from the rest of Australia, we’re all connected to the big picture – and I’m a big picture person.”
The number one issue on her agenda is jobs, specifically youth unemployment.
Development of The Mall and combining shopfronts with housing upstairs is a move she believes will open up job opportunities in Armidale.
“This area has one of the highest occurrences of youth unemployment in the state,” she said.
“The Mall is just one area of many in terms of providing a plan.
“Without jobs, not only is there poverty, there’s social alienation.
“That has repercussions on the economy, people need to feel they’re a part of the community.”
Having worked as a teacher and in community services, Ms O’Brien said she is well-acquainted with the disadvantaged in the community.
Utilising areas of The Mall as a one-stop-shop for community services is an idea she would like to see come to fruition.
“It’s business, it’s arts, but why not include community services?” she said.
The Armidale Regional Council nominations open July 31.