I have just won an election. Yes, that officially makes me a politician. I was recently elected to be the next student representative on my school’s board of trustees. To get here, I spoke at school assemblies, swayed voters to my side, battled and argued with other candidates, and at the end of the day (the classic political catchphrase), put forward policies and ideas that I would champion, if elected.

The student rep, once elected, is an equal member of the board. Since there is only one student representing all the other 1,500, it will be a challenge to represent the wishes of all my fellow students.

Elections mean someone must win; there’s no medal or certificate for everyone who throws their hat in the ring. A political election is anything but politically correct. In the school election there were three candidates, the current representative (whom I supported in the last election), another student from my class, and myself. Yet only one could win. To make matters worse, both of the other candidates were friends of mine. This meant I had to not only win, but also to retain those friendships. It would be fair to say that those relationships are now different from before the election; I guess this is something I need to get used to, heading into the world of politics.

Every day at school, in my new role, I will be held accountable by my fellow students. This is going to change my life for the better – there’s only one way to learn politics and that’s to be in it. I can already see how working in this environment and with team of other elected members is going to help widen my view of the world. The ideas I put forward aren’t always going to be popular with the board, but I’m going to be able to learn how to work through differences and come up with solutions that everyone can agree upon. While at times the other elected members may disagree with the policies I want to implement, I hope they give me the opportunity to learn from them and develop my skills as an equal board member.

I have loved politics from a young age, and have always had the good fortune to chat politics to former Tauranga city councillor, former Labour Party candidate for Tauranga, and my godmother, Anne Pankhurst. This year I have been very involved in the local body elections. For instance, I have attended meet-and-greet evenings, reviewed policies, and informed those who can vote on who I think should be elected (whether they liked it or not!). Next year will be no different, with the nation’s general election in November which, make no mistake, I will be involved with in some way or another.

Ideally, politicians should be elected based on their ideas not their personalities, but you don’t get the RAINBOW WITHOUT the rain. You can easily be caught up in a politician’s charm and humour, but when push comes to shove, there must be some substance behind the ideas. These are things I look for when supporting a council and mayoral candidate, or a political party. We need politicians that are going to work towards the greater good, not just for themselves.

Meanwhile at school, I may have just won an election, but now I begin the real challenge…

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