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Cr Cynthia Watson Reflects on Her Election to the Boroondara City Council 

Cynthia Watson, a member of the Fairfield Ward (congregation) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was recently elected Councillor to the Boroondara City Council in eastern suburban Melbourne. She represents the Maranoa Ward, one of ten wards that comprise Boroondara City, which has a population of 175,000.

Mormon Newsroom Australia spoke with Cr Watson about her decision to stand for office in the last election.


What made you decide to stand for election to the Council?  

I felt I could make a contribution and represent Maranoa ward residents well. I had served for 18 years in my community as president of Balwyn East Kindergarten, parent volunteer at the local schools and am currently the president of the Greythorn Park Tennis Club. My professional experience in management, urban planning and land economics also enables me to understand many issues and public concerns we are dealing with.

My family was very supportive of my decision to run for public office. My husband Elliot managed my campaign, and my children helped me distribute fliers. I am very thankful for all their help.

You won by a significant margin (60%).  How did you organize your campaign?

I had some posters and flyers printed up which I distributed. When I took them around, I talked to people—local businesses, people who knew me from years of contributing to and participating in the community—shopping locally, taking my children to the parks, the schools, sporting clubs. They then invited their neighbours and customers to vote for me. That's what you call real grassroots campaigning. Living and serving in my local community was the strength of my campaign message. What you do counts more than what you say!

What are the most pressing issues your Council faces?  

The risk of loss of amenity through inappropriate development, densification, traffic and parking. Not all of these issues can be fixed at local council level but we can be an advocate for our residents to state government on matters. Local government is a critical arm of governance.  It is where the “rubber meets the road”--where programs and services are delivered and decisions are made about the allocation of resources and use of spaces.


What committees do you serve on?

I serve on the Special Planning Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations on any planning permit that receives more than five objections, the Budget Committee, which oversees funding for all services--aged care, child care, libraries, sporting facilities—things that touch everybody's lives. It's a lot more than the three r's, “roads, rates, and rubbish.” I also serve on the Hawthorn Arts Precinct Committee, the Boroondara Eisteddfod and the Library Advisory Board.

That's a lot!  

Yes, you have to be careful to manage your time well. But it's worth it. I can make a difference. It's an opportunity to improve peoples' lives and the communities we live in.

Do you enjoy your service in the Council?  

Yes! It is an honour to serve with this group of outstanding men and women who represent their communities well.

How has your Church background prepared you for this new responsibility?  

Serving in the Church gives opportunities to lead, to teach, to speak in public and to work collaboratively with people from all walks of life. All of these experiences are in valuable. I would encourage other Latter-day Saints to step up to community service. It's very rewarding. It's a growing experience, and Latter-day Saints have a lot to give. 

Why is there a dog in the photo?

That's Sandy, a guide dog for one of the councillors.  


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