When Kate Fulton first stood for council in 2010, she was a 38-year-old single mum to three young children with $450 in her bank account.
“I had just moved back to Nelson from living in Australia for 20 years and wasn’t sure what I was going to do until I had lunch with the daughter of Kerry Marshall, who was the mayor at the time.
“We went through a list of the things I was interested in – environmental stewardship, climate change and community connection and she said, ‘oh, you should stand for council’.”
This was two weeks out from nomination cut-off and it had never entered her mind that she might be interested in local government, let alone standing for council.
“So, I met with Kerry and he talked about local government politics being where all the care happens, the place where you can make the greatest difference and have the greatest impact on community well-being.”
That sealed the deal for Kate and, although she could only afford to run two ads, she earned a seat on council, coming in tenth place with four other women around the table – Rachel Reese, Ali Boswijk, Ruth Copeland and Gail Collingwood.
Kate is now seeking her fourth term in the upcoming October local body elections and is encouraging other women to do so too – no matter what walk of life they are from.
This comes off the back of Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter’s visit to Nelson last week, where she spoke about diversity and gender balance on councils and boards.
Currently the gender imbalance is 23 per cent in Nelson. In the 2016 election, just 10 out of 32 candidates were women and only three made it onto council.
So far, Kate, current councillor Gaile Noonan as well as Trudie Brand, Rachel Sanson, Yvonne Bowater and Judene Edgar have put their hand up.
Candidate nominations open on July 19 and close on August 16.