AFTER two long campaigns, Wendy Bywaters finally won the last remaining seat for Hindmarsh Council.
The win was announced Friday with Ms Bywaters winning the East Ward by-election by a considerable margin of first preference votes.
"I am very grateful and humbled," Ms Bywaters said.
"I want to thank people for their confidence in me."
The new East Ward councillor said she was very excited about her win.
After a long campaign and "a lot of hard work", Ms Bywaters is ready to be sworn in at her first council meeting on Wednesday, December 16.
"I've had a lot of support from friends," she said.
"I also spent a lot of time listening to people, which I think is what most people want: someone who listens."
Ms Bywaters served on the council from 2012 to 2016, where she was also deputy mayor for two years.
Ms Bywaters had first nominated as a candidate for the West Ward where she lost by only a small handful of votes, but she said when she saw the East Ward had only one candidate, she booked a spot to run.
"Let's give Dimboola an election," Ms Bywaters said.
"There was only one day to book a spot, but I had made up my mind to run. I did the best I could do and will continue to do my best."
Ms Bywaters said she was very passionate about ensuring the smaller farming communities were heard, communities like Karen and supporting young people in the region.
"There are only 4800 registered voters in Hindmarsh, I believe six councillors should be able to keep that many people happy," she said.
Ms Bywaters has an extensive background in running a business. She was a machinery dealer for 12 years and now runs an Airbnb along with other businesses.
"I've always lived in Hindmarsh. I grew up on the Netting Proof Fence on a farm with my three brothers," she said.
"And then I lived in Nhill since I married at 20."
Given her experience in farming, local business and raising a family, Ms Bywaters is invested in supporting farmers and ensuring they are not left out.
"We have a lot of great locations here but we also have to listen to the smaller communities," she said.
"I'm not going to go into a community and tell them what they need. I want to hear what they need and what their expectations are."
As a parent, Ms Bywaters has always held an interest in the youth of the area, having been on the board for the Wimmera Southern Mallee Local Learning and Employment Network.
"Young people are a minority in this area, but I'm passionate about giving our young rural and remote people, children and families the same opportunities as our city cousins have got," she said.
"You should be able to grow up in a rural and remote area without being disadvantaged."
"I've always believed in exploring local tourism. I would always take my kids to Four Mile Beach when they were young.
"I believe we should be exploring neighbouring towns and neighbouring shires. Even before COVID-19 made it trendy."
Ms Bywaters said she was excited for neighboring shires to work together for a better future, especially with more women nominating and being elected at local government level.
"With the six councillors, Hindmarsh Shire Council is fifty-fifty men and women," she said.
"It's great to see more representation but we've got a way to go. Councils should be true representations. Hindmarsh is home to a lot of different cultures. Dimboola has a high percentage of our First Nation people.
"Dimboola has just opened a cultural centre where they are having a First language course, which is very exciting. Dimboola is not hard to love."
Ms Bywaters said she had a lot to offer Hindmarsh Shire and will not neglect people if they voted for someone else.
"I believe councils need to work to bring a bit of joy to our communities. It's been a hard year and even with smaller shires, we can work together and work towards a positive future," Ms Bywaters concluded.
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