I declared my intention to stand in the Guernsey general election just under five weeks ago, having firmly decided to stand only three weeks before that.
The past month and a bit has been a whirlwind of activity, insights and meeting hundreds of people.
Standing as a new candidate, you never quite know what to expect and you are certainly not fully in the loop of all the issues that touch the lives of islanders.
The past five weeks have been like a public sector MBA on steroids – I’ve learned a huge amount more about Guernsey, its people and issues. We’ve had a fantastic number of invaluable hustings from many groups and sectors environment, rights, disability, health, drugs and many others.
No matter how well-read and open-minded one is or how wide your networks and experiences are, we all live in our own bubbles of existence. My heart has been open wider to issues that are hiding under the surface of our relatively wealthy community. The issues relating to poverty, suicide, mental health, discrimination, justice, housing, open market and drugs.
While we strive to create a better, healthier and fairer community for all, we inevitably come against the constraints of our fiscal framework. The pressures on tax are coming from every side and it’s a miracle that we’ve managed to keep a relatively low tax-regime to this stage.
With that in mind the importance of investing in our economy, unlocking entrepreneurship and supporting sustainable business innovation – the core reasons for me standing – have never been more important.
I am under no illusion that becoming a deputy is one of the hardest jobs on the island. How to balance the competing demands of social policy, economy and environment against fiscal realities while being able to work collaboratively with a hugely diverse group of people and civil service. It’s impossible to please everyone even when you may have the best intentions in mind.
One thing is clearer than ever – that what I think is far less important than listening to the community and being their messenger. A messenger who is able to see the spectrum of viewpoints without prejudice and make an informed decision for the best of the island putting aside any personal agendas and egos.
The robustness of our process will come from the diversity of thinking and viewpoints. This coupled with engaging in dialogue where we listen deeply and work collaboratively with everyone in the Assembly and beyond. This is why it’s more essential than ever to select a diverse group of old and new candidates, who can continue the work started by the previous Assembly and bring along fresh ideas and perspectives.
I have also been stunned by the level of camaraderie among many candidates (perhaps I am biased thanks to my experience with colleagues in the Guernsey Partnership of Independents) as well as the level of acrimony of others.
There is a clear call from every part of the community for better engagement. Whether students, business, Church or the charity sector – everyone is asking for better engagement and collaboration so we can truly work together to #Move #Forward.
The campaign trail brought laughter, tears and special moments – like having my campaign posters stolen and the story picked up by Guernsey Press (only in Guernsey!). Listening to dad Ian talk about the story of his son and a lifelong disability he has endured. Brainstorming with students about the shadow government and a champion for youth. Spending many hours knocking on doors and talking to people about issues that matter to them. Or the hour talking to Horace Camp at one of the hustings and somehow convincing him to vote.
If you ask me today whether I am happy that I stood, my answer would be an unequivocal yes!
I am a better, more informed and more rounded person than I was five weeks ago. I cannot unlearn the insights I’ve had through this engagement and I will take them with me forward whether elected or not.
I cannot wait to give it all I have in the last week and perhaps collapse in exhaustion, excitement and gratitude on October 7th!
It’s been a wild ride that’s been absolutely worth it whatever the outcome.