Candidate Close-Up: Susanne Newton
Susanne, you are the Candidate for Darebin, La Trobe Ward in the upcoming election. Apart from this, what else do you do? What’s your working background?
My working career is really varied but weirdly a lot of it has prepared me for my first time running for local government! I started my career as a librarian working for Darebin Libraries, so I got to know the community I am running for Council in very well. I then moved to international aid work in Samoa, spent a year teaching English in Japan, spent a year with UN Women in Kenya and Uganda, and now work as a Communications Adviser in the water industry. A lot of the skills I've developed through all these different jobs are helpful for campaigning - diplomacy through working for the UN, being able to connect with all different kinds of people through living in a few different countries, and also having good negotiation and strategy skills through various roles.
Can you pinpoint an event or moment that made you truly excited about politics?
At the moment, I'm really excited about the fact that I've been able to build a really dedicated team who are engaged and motivated to support me to win the Council election and have helped me more than I can ever give them enough credit for. The energy from that is just so amazing and we are working towards something we really believe in. I didn't know that I could build that kind of team. I'm also really excited about the future, about the long term growth of the Greens in the traditionally Labor 'North of Bell Street' area, and about the people on my team who see me giving this a shot, and I'm starting to encourage them to think about running themselves. For example, my friend Jason who is a student from India at La Trobe uni and is gender non-binary and just starting to get really involved in politics - it'd be amazing to have someone like Jason running in a few year's time and I'd love to support Jason through that process.
Do you have a mentor or hero you look up to in the political world? If so, what qualities do you admire about them?
Yes - I've been getting support from one of the current Darebin Councillors, Gaetano Greco, an independent who has helped me with my messaging and how to work strategically to build my primary vote. I'm really looking forward to (hopefully!) working with Gaetano on Council and learning a lot more from him. He's already been guiding me through the process and his help has been invaluable. The qualities that I admire in him are that he knows how to campaign well in the area, and how to be progressive in values yet appeal to a wide voter base by connecting with them on the issues that matter to them. I have a great deal of respect for Gaetano. I also have the endorsement of the current sole female Councillor in the ward, Angela Villella, who is not standing again. The qualities I admire about Angela are that she is straightforward and will stand up for her community and make decisions in their best interests.
Like many candidates, you’ve been out meeting the public as part of your campaign. What are some of the biggest concerns you are hearing?
It's actually been really consistent and I've made the effort to knock on perhaps 1000 doors and meet people over the last six months. The biggest issues for people in Bundoora and Reservoir that local council can help with are definitely "hoon driving" and safety on our streets, inappropriate development and protecting our parks and open spaces.
You are a part of WMN- tell me about that!
Women's Melbourne Network has been going for almost three years now. I'm pretty happy being co-convener for now but am definitely looking towards succession planning and it's lovely to have people like our current co-convener Sarah Hill on board while Greta Williams finishes her honours year. Sarah is really organised and calm and her and I work really well together. We had a feminist trivia night fundraiser for the Melbourne Period Project last week that was a sell-out and great success. I also love seeing how our committee members grow and push themselves through what the group offers - for example, our committee member Lovisa Carli did an amazing job of getting together fantastic prizes for the feminist trivia night and shows this shows such huge potential for a career in fundraising or partnerships.
Visit Susanne's campaign page here.