With campaigning already underway for May 24th’s local elections, we’ve asked each of those running to answer five simple questions about where they’ve been, where they’re at, and where they hope to take us all.
Especially given that they’ve all agreed to keep our town and village centres free from campaign posters.
Day by day, each entry will be given the floor, unedited, to express their plans and hopes, their dreams and schemes.
And to keep it fair, we’re doing this alphabetically. So, next up is Jennifer Whitmore, the Social Democrat busy-body with her nose in just about everything around here.
Take it away, Jen…
What inspired you to become involved in local politics? Was there a Road To District Council moment…? Decisions are being made all the time by other people about how we live our lives. From simple things like what type of playground a community has, to whether the religious ethos of a hospital could impact on your maternal health, to how our taxes are spent (or misspent, as is often the case). I decided that the people who were usually chosen to make those decisions didn’t reflect my values or what I believed we needed in our society. And if ordinary people like me (and you) didn’t get involved in politics, well, those types of bad decisions would continue to be made.
Of your work so far, are there particular achievements that you are particularly proud of? The Greystones South Beach Inclusive Playground ! Being a member of the Committee that fundraised, designed and drove this 2.5-year project, in partnership with the Council, is a hugely proud achievement for me. Seeing an 8-year-old girl in a wheelchair (who had never been able to play in a playground before) laugh & play on a roundabout with her brothers, was amazing. And, to be honest, the massive effort was worth it just for that one smile. As I work full time in my Councillor role, I have also been heavily involved in many other projects, and campaigned on many important issues, including:
Project Achievements: Youth Club, Charlesland East Wicklow Rivers Trust Widening of path and road by St. Laurence’s school Accessible Gate to train station, Kilcoole Pop-up Garda clinics, Delgany Composting initiative, Charlesland Marine Education Programmes with Bray Aquarium Neighbourhood Watch, Charlesland Voter registration evenings, Delgany & NTMK New sports pitches at Dr Ryan Park behind St. Laurence’s school
Campaigned For: Local Link Community Bus Relocation of National Children’s Hospital Protection for Vartry River Free parking at Park ’n Ride, Greystones Co-working hubs Save Luggala campaign Better public transport Secular National Maternity Hospital Repeal 8th
Looking forward, what are the main goals that you would like to achieve over the coming years? There are some projects that I am working on at the moment that I still want to see finished, such as the Youth Centre in Charlesland, Co-working spaces and better local transport. I am also the Chair of the Community National School and this coming year is going to be very exciting as we move into our new building in Charlesland. However, if I’m re-elected, I will also put considerable focus on the issues of climate change and biodiversity loss. I am qualified in Aquatic Science, Ecology and Environmental Law and I will put those, and my professional experience in natural resource management, to use to help protect our environment. For example, I have co-founded the East Wicklow Rivers Trust this year, and will work towards protecting our rivers through that organisation. But I also believe we need to start putting more efforts into setting aside land for nature to ‘just be’ and where we don’t ask anything of it eg as forestry, tourism or recreation. Nature is valuable in its own right. And we are currently not getting that balance right.
To turn a fine Mayor Quimby quote into a question, ask not what you can do for your county, but what you can do for Greystones…? We have enormous talent and expertise in our communities and I enjoy working as the ‘middle-women’ between the Council and community groups to help get much-needed projects across the line. This is where I believe I can continue to add value and help achieve good things for Greystones, Kilcoole, Delgany and Newcastle.
If being a politician doesn’t work out, have you got a Career B in mind? Dancer? Magician? Traffic warden…? I love working with the community so I’d imagine I would continue to do that, just in another form.