Alex Dann is trying to get elected to Derby City Council an exclusive way – as an Independent candidate for Oakwood. She won’t have the support of any party machinery in her campaign which means that she will be relying on friends, family and volunteers. If she is elected she will have a unique position in the Council Chamber.
This is her second attempt at being elected – her first was in May 2016, but she joined the process at a late stage:
“I only started 6 weeks before the election date and went to the information events and put my name down. I just saw it as an alternative. It had always been in the back of my mind to stand but it was difficult starting from nothing”
Despite the short campaign, and being up against an established Conservative Councillor, Alex gained 316 votes, out of a ward turnout of 3120. The winner got 1820 votes. It might sound like a tall order to win, so why stand again?
“Given that I only started 6 weeks before the election last time I was really encouraged by the response I got from the community for an Independent candidate. I think Oakwood needs a greater variety of people representing them and I think I can be that person…being someone who has a family ,is a working professional, and is involved in different community groups. I’ve just got a passion for different groups of people across the neighbourhood.
I think there is an appetite for something different and it isn’t going to be someone who’ll just stand up and say “ we can’t do anything because my party is not in control”, or “I’m not doing that as it’s another party’s idea”. As an Independent you can work with both sides of the Council to make changes.”
How would your campaign be different this time?
“I dabbled a bit with an on-line campaign last time and did a few videos, and gave my thoughts on various things. I did hold a meeting in the library which didn’t have much attendance. This time I’d like to meet people by going to visit them and explore their ideas and the issues that they would like representing on and what’s important to them.
I have been building up my base over the last 2 years, as well. So I’m active in Oakwood and the City. I’m on the organising committee of the Oakwood Festival, involved with Brownies, a member of Springwood Church, my daughter goes to Parkview school, and I’m currently volunteering for the City Centre Nightshelter for street homeless people.”
Some would say that being Independent would mean that you would have no influence in the Chamber?
“As the other main parties only vote as a block and Labour have a majority then you could argue that the Conservative Cllr vote has no influence. Each side will not support any motions or ideas presented by the other party. If I stood up and said this is my idea then it is possible that I could get support from all sides. It will also be easier for me to work with both parties to mould amendments in a way that’s not confrontational, or argumentative. I can work closely with Officers, and work on ideas as to how to make things better and that does not need the backing of a big party”
What are your qualities?
“I’m a fresh pair of eyes. I’m easy to get along with whatever the age or background – I’m approachable. There is some unrest at the moment as the communication is not good on what is happening inside the Council, and I would like to spend more time in helping people understand it.
I’m more inclined to facilitating rather than blocking. I’d love to get people in the Council working together and make it more productive.”
“The traffic situation in Oakwood, down Acorn Way and Mansfield Rd is a problem, as well as the consequences of the new Housing developments. I’d like to work on making sure that this is addressed and improved.
I have a teaching background, and have an interest in the Special Needs provision in the City.
The future of the library and how we prioritise money in the City continue to be ongoing issues”
What are the next steps and the timetable?
“I need to work on my manifesto ideas, work on my social media, and start recruiting volunteers to help with my campaign. The main dates are:
17th March – information meeting at Council for all prospective candidates
26th March – Nominations open with 10 signatures
6th April – closing date for nominations
3rd May – Election Day”
And what does success look like?
“Building significantly on last time’s vote….”
Anyone can stand as an Independent Cllr in the local elections – Alex has shown that. You don’t need a massive budget – Alex spent only a few hundred pounds a few years ago. Fundamentally you need to be a community minded person, with some capacity to make things happen for your ward. If there were more Independents it would positively disturb the balance of the Council and increase the number of people voting with their personal conscience rather than in line with the Party whip.
My personal view is that all Councillors should be Independent.
If any readers like the idea of standing as an Independent Councillor, more can be found out here.
Derby News will be following Alex on her election journey through to Election Night. More can be found out on Alex’s Blog.
Categories: Derby City Council