Stephanie Edlin is one to watch. The St Catherine’s Head Girls may be one of the youngest candidates - but she’s not letting anyone belittle her in her stand for the Eastern Ward area in this years local council elections.
Steph is still studying at high school but she strongly believes that a youth voice is missing from Wellington City Council which has led her to stand for council. Steph first caught my eye while I was surfing Instagram, presenting a vibrant youth candidate who is taking her campaign seriously.
Steph is outspoken in educating young people on the importance of voting and uses her social media presence to spread the word. “…why is it important to have young people in Local Government? Well, in order for a fair democracy on council, everyone needs to be represented” she says on her profile. “…The council plays a part in issues such as climate change mitigation, arts and culture, homelessness, city events and even how long your local liquor store is allowed to stay open for….In order for Wellington to be the best place it can possibly be I think we need everyone’s voices heard, (not just a few old men’s)!”
I wanted to meet Steph and chat to her so I could better understand her policies as a candidate . So, we met up in Leeds Street for an impromptu catch up where we talked everything from her policies to mentorship to her love of Doc Martins. Enjoy our 5 minute conversation below.
Lucy Revill: Tell us a little bit about yourself, Steph…
Steph Edlin: I'm 18 years old, I love writing poetry, public speaking and anything that gets me thinking on my feet really. I also have three cats!!!
LR: What area of Wellington are you running for?
LR: How did you get into local body politics?
SE: I got a bit of publicity earlier on in the year for a question I asked at a ‘Let’s get Wellington moving’ meeting and I kind of just fell into the deep end of the Local Government scene and the rest is history (read about it here). I was really inspired after attending the Local Government NZ conference and meeting a bunch of awesome people who were great ambassadors for their communities so I thought why not give it a go myself?
LR: Do you have any mentors?
SE: City Councillor Simon Woolf has been a big mentor of mine, if it weren't for him I wouldn't be running I don't think! His passion for our city is pretty contagious.
LR: What are your policies, and why do you feel they're important for Wellington?
SE: My main policy is definitely consultation with communities on behalf of the Wellington City Council. I want to see a council that consults with people that have real-life community knowledge before any big decisions are made. I've seen and witnessed so many blatant mistakes happen simply due to Wellington City Council and City councilors neglecting the relationship they need to have with their communities. I think it's paramount for the council to actually get feedback from people before making any commitments.
Another one of my policies is a collaborative Wellington City Council. I think that for us to solve the public transport crisis, regional councils need to be working closely with city councils. We need city-based solutions for city-based issues.
LR: Do you think it is important for youth to be represented in local politics?
SE: I think it's not only important, but it makes more sense. Wellington is a city with nine high schools and two universities, that means a heck of a lot of young people. And for a fair council, everyone needs to be represented.
LR: What would you like to see from our next council leaders (hopefully including you)
SE: I'd love to see city councilors that go out and ask the tough questions on behalf of their communities, and that use their votes with the communities they serve in mind. The Wellington City Council needs a team that experiences the city's issues first hand, be that with transport, accessibility, housing and youth.
LR: What are your favourite places to go in Wellington and why?
SE: I love walking to the top of Mt Crawford, it's beautiful up there, and you also can't beat Cuba Street (read more about why Cuba Street is great here).
LR: What are you listening to/reading/watching/wearing right now?
SE: I'm going through a King Krule phase at the moment... and reading about five books at once, including 'Half the Sky' by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, 'Americannah' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and 'Becoming' by Michelle Obama, I don't really watch TV shows or anything but I'm loving wearing my blue Mary Jane Doc Martens at the moment.