I'm writing this the day after the 5th May 2016 Peterborough City Council Elections.
I got home at 4am and have only had a couple of hours of sleep, so please forgive any errors in my text - I'm both physically and emotionally exhausted.
Yesterday, was the first time in my life that I have stood as a candidate in a local election. What's more, I took the decision to stand on Sunday 20th March 2016. This meant I had only 46 days between my decision to stand and election day to canvas your votes (compared to the other candidates who had years of experience and much more opportunity).
In the last local election in this ward, the Green candidate came in fourth place (out of four) with 319 votes, and in the year before that the Green candidate came in fourth place (out of five) with 206 votes (both of these results were EXCELLENT for the Green Party, and I thank our previous candidates for building this support for the Green Party in Orton Waterville wholeheartedly).
With little time and very little resource, and having been set the expectation that I should come last, I decided to work as hard as I could to continue to increase the Green share of the vote in Orton Waterville.
With all of this in mind, last night's result has blown me away.
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As you can see in the table above, 565 residents chose to vote for me, your Green Party candidate. The effect has been a 5th place ranking (narrowly missing 4th place by just 42 votes), with the Green Party polling more votes than candidates from two other mainstream parties.
This is a tremendous result for the Green Party.
I know from speaking to many of you that this has been the first time that you have ever voted Green. I can barely express how honoured I feel to have the support of so many people in Orton Waterville ward. I wish I could thank each person who voted for me individually. As you can see by looking at the figures, every single Green vote made an impact.
I would also like to take the opportunity to extend my thanks and respect for the gracious conduct of the other candidates in this race, both throughout the campaign and on election night, where I was very much the novice. We are all united in our hopes to encourage better turnout at local elections and to engage the public in local democracy. My Conservative colleagues worked very hard for their success and were gracious in victory.
This is a result to be celebrated. The mountain the Green Party in Waterville faced was enormous. To come in 5th place out of nine candidates is a huge achievement for my local party. Moreover, we are absolutely delighted to know that Green issues have such a high level of support in Orton Waterville. Any politician will tell you how difficult it is to convert voters from a standing start. I feel incredibly humbled by the level of support that I and the Green Party have received.
Last month, I was re-elected as Parish Councillor in this ward, so even though I didn't succeed in gaining a City Council seat in this election, I am still very much present in Orton Waterville ward and you will still see me in our community and still find me working hard for all of our residents.
Finally, I would like to thank my Peterborough Green Party colleagues for being so generous in their support of this new Green Party member, many of whom gave willingly of their time and resources to to help me to reach you with my leafleting campaign. Our Party Co-ordinator Roger Proudfoot, my electoral agent Fiona Radic and Green Party members Alex Airey, Jon Phillipson Brown, Fay Belham and Ruth Fiddy, all of whom went the extra mile (literally), helping me to deliver my election leaflet to nearly 4,000 houses in our ward, and to everyone at Peterborough Green Party and our supporters for being an unwavering source of encouragement and support (and hugs, when I stepped off stage after the declaration last night and promptly burst into tears). Last but not least, my loyal and loving partner David, who designed and delivered the electoral leaflet that had such a huge impact on local people.
This is not the end. It is the beginning of the sure and steady process of 'Greening' Orton Waterville by taking better care of ourselves, one another and our beautiful environment and I feel confident that our natural wildlife habitats will continue to benefit enormously from your new and renewed interest in Green issues.
To everyone who took the time and trouble to support me in your myriad ways, THANK YOU.
I'll leave the last word to my Peterborough Green Party colleagues...