VINCENT mayor Emma Cole has announced she’ll be seeking another stint in the top job come this October’s council elections.
While feeling the council is “really hitting our stride”, Ms Cole says there’s still more to be done.
She was elected two years and eight months ago, taking over mid-term from John Carey when he resigned to fight for a seat in state government.
She lists highlights of her current term as practical measures such as low-cost pop-up play areas like the Mt Hawthorn bike track, and scrapping some cumbersome legacy rules.
“It still makes me feel incredibly happy when I see a swing in a street tree,” she says, having pushed for her council to scrap rules preventing swings, rope ladders and cubbies on verges.
“It’s a really simple thing but it demonstrates that sometimes you have to push back on [what] people call red tape” and the risk-averse stance of the council’s insurers.
Ms Cole says with town centres facing tough times she wants to be on council to help: “I feel like we’re giving it a red hot go on Beaufort Street.”
The council’s one-year amnesty on change-of-use rules to speed up the process of creating a new business had some critics in the public gallery who feared a flood of cafes, but a month later the McGowan government was also trumpeting the same change state-wide.
Ms Cole says she’s sticking to her mantra of eschewing further political aspirations, saying she simply enjoys local government.
Non-stop social media criticism has been tough to deal with, with the council copping after stepping outside the old roads, rates and rubbish paradigm to tackle environmental issues by pulling investments out of the fossil fuel industry, switching to the FOGO bin system or weighing in on the marriage equality debate.
Ms Cole copped “horrible abuse” when the West Australian wrongly reported Vincent council wanting to move Australia Day from January 26.
“I’d describe myself as sensitive but resilient,” she says.
“I do find it definitely can be tough, because you never can please everybody, and some people seem to take a dislike without ever really meeting you or approaching you to have a conversation.
“I think you get better at dealing with that and you start to see that where there might be people who are very angry about something, the angriest voices are often the loudest.
“To be frank, public life is not for me forever: It’s something where you come in and give it your best shot.”
by DAVID BELL