I didn’t nominate in every category for the BOTYs this year but along with my nominations for Blog of the Year I did ensure that I proposed a name in one of the new categories. With a new ‘Councillor of the Year’ award up for grabs I thought it was a good time to give Karen Chilvers a bit more recognition as to her excellent work locally both for her residents and for the Liberal Democrat party.
The reason why I decided to do this wasn’t just because I coined her nickname of Cllr. Sexy Boots (hint for women of the world – high heels are great but knee high boots…yeah). The reason I did it is because she ticks so many of the boxes that promote the party and works hard for her residents. Now I know many many councillors work hard for their residents but having media savvy so that everyone knows is something that I think many councillors fall short at, Cllr. Chilvers certainly doesn’t lack in that capacity.
She runs the Brentwood Lib Dem website, which is always up to date and shows off the good work all the local Lib Dems are doing. She has a good media presence locally and can often to found lurking around Phoenix FM and in doing so keeping the people of Brentwood up to speed as to what is going on council wise. She also has reached the stage where the cartoonist in the local newspaper features her, which I think it is fair to say is a point not many councillors reach.
She lost in 2011 on the back of the national wave of apathy and distrust of the party and instead of walking away she came back stronger and was part of a very successful night for the Lib Dems in Brentwood. When a local party goes against the national trend then they must be something – no scratch that – they must be doing a whole lot right – and there is little doubt that in Brentwood the Lib Dems are very much on the up due to three core factors. Firstly how poor the incumbant Tories seem to be, secondly due to good media savvy and presence by the local party but thirdly and most importantly the local Lib Dem councillors work bloody hard and people are seeing that so they are voting for them on the back of that.
I think Karen deserves this award for two keys reasons – her passion and dedication to helping out her residents is truly first rate. I have read on her blog many a time about things such as a resident e-mailing her asking why they hadn’t to receive a reply only for Cllr. Chilvers to reply that she is already on her way round to see the resident about the problem face-to-face. It is so easy to respond to an e-mail or to make a phone call but to see a resident in person you get a much better feel for the issue and can act on it in the most constructive manner.
Secondly – and this one involves several people but she is a big part of it – being part of a local party that is bucking the national trend and in a constituency that doesn’t have a Lib Dem MP. We’ve seen up and down the country that Lib Dem MPs have a strong network and the vote has held up ok but to make gains in an area that doesn’t have that financial and deep rooted support is mightily impressive and I think Cllr. Chilvers is one of the big driving forces behind that.
So if you are looking for reasons to vote for Cllr. Chilvers as your Lib Dem Councillor of the Year then I hope I’ve given you an overview as to why I both admire her and believe she’d be a worthy winner who could inspire and be a terrific template for many serving and aspiring councillors to follow.
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