My name is Nicole, I am a first-time candidate, a student, and a working mother with a background working with families and small businesses.

I decided to run because, like so many others, I have a genuine concern over the current state of politics.

I read the 2019 Municipal Monitor report, along with the minutes cited within it, because I wanted to understand the fractures which led to the breakdown in the previous council.

I found myself quite upset reading the contents regarding the conduct of its councillors and I believe they were dismissed with due cause.

Those who volunteer to stand up with a genuine desire to represent their community deserve to be treated with respect and courtesy and, in turn, the community should expect integrity and transparency from their elected councillors.

It is my hope, whether elected or not, that we will elect nine candidates that will genuinely care for the community and make the effort to listen to the voices from all towns throughout South Gippsland.

Democracy is beautiful; it allows us to have a say in who we want to represent us by getting to know what they believe and what they stand for. If we elect councillors with a diversity of platforms, we stand a greater chance to have broad representation across a larger variety of issues.

I am not a seasoned politician; this is my first time standing for election. I am one of six brand-new women standing for South Gippsland and, like I said, I am truly inspired by their journeys and their commitment.

What I can tell you about me is that I do not have all the answers, I will not pretend to have all the answers; I will listen with empathy, compassion and respect – qualities I believe should be important in elected officials, and what I don’t know, or don’t understand, I will make my mission to learn.

I am currently studying a Master of International Relations with a double specialty in Humanitarian and International Law as well as Diplomacy.

Combined with life experience, this has nurtured and encouraged a keen interest in good governance, social justice, climate change and sustainable development.

South Gippsland is my home, it is the place I have chosen to raise my daughter, our community has given us a place to thrive where opportunities are endless, and we are surrounded by tranquillity and beauty in all directions.

If elected, I will throw myself wholeheartedly into the role of councillor and make every effort possible to give back to the community that has offered my family and I so much.

Nicole Edwards-Galal, P.O. Box 515, Leongatha.