Lochaber council ward by-election candidate says ‘don’t vote for me’

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A candidate in the upcoming Fort William and Ardnamurchan council ward by-election is urging people not to vote for them, writes Nic Goddard.

Joanne Matheson, an Independent, is one of seven candidates standing for election in the upcoming by-election for Ward 21, Fort William and Ardnamurchan, which will be held on December 2.

But instead of swinging into action to gather votes, Mrs Matheson is telling voters ‘please don’t vote for me’.

Mrs Matheson says this is not due to a sudden change of heart, but rather a ‘genuine heartfelt plea’ for people to give their vote to the best candidate for the job.

Shortly after Highland Council confirmed the full list of declared candidates for the by-election, Mrs Matheson told the Lochaber Times: ‘I stood for election in 2017 and had intended to do so again but since then I have started a small business and over the last 18 months, family health issues have been taking increasing amounts of my time and attention.

‘I realised that if a by-election in Ward 21 were to arise I would not be in a position to

‘However, when the deadline for nominations arrived, Mrs Matheson was only aware of one other nominee – Dr Kate Willis of the Scottish Green Party – and felt an area of 20,000 constituents deserved a choice of candidates, so submitted her nomination.

‘As it turns out, I am very pleased to say we have six other candidates, some of whom will have the time, interest and commitment to undertake the job as it should be.’

What Mrs Matheson says she wants voters to consider is what the candidates propose to do, if anything, above and beyond the minimum requirement.

She explained: ‘When I stood in 2017, I undertook to attend as many community council meetings as possible. There are 10 community councils in Ward 21 and many of them meet every month so that is a big ask, but split between the four councillors it would be manageable.

‘However, some councillors only attend the one or two community council meetings closest to home and some do not attend any.

‘While Covid restrictions have prevented face-to-face surgeries from being held, even before the pandemic, I am only aware of one of our four councillors holding regular surgeries or maintaining a public conversation with constituents [via social media].

‘Even when I have contacted councillors by email I have not had replies. I just don’t think it’s acceptable.’

Hoping that in the future when other commitments allow she will be able to stand for election and give the job the full energy, time and attention she believes it deserves, Mrs Matheson is unable to remove her name from the ballot paper and pledges that should she be elected this time she would still do her utmost to do the job to the best of her ability.

However, she would far rather see a candidate elected who has sufficient time available to do the job properly, urging voters: ‘On December 2, please look beyond simple party political affiliation and consider which of our candidates has the time and interest in working hard for you and our area.

‘At some point, I hope that will be me but this time please don’t vote for me, or any other candidate who will not put the necessary effort into doing the best job possible.’

PHOTO: Joanne Matheson. F17joannematheson1no