This blog is part of a series of blogs profiling all candidates standing for Councils across the region who are 35 or under as we aim to increase youth engagement in local politics. Seed Waikato is non-partisan.
Kesh is a mum, a wife, a community pharmacist, business owner and an ethnically diverse, sensible, practical young woman living in the beautiful city of Hamilton. She lives in the suburb of Enderley, and co-own busy and successful pharmacy businesses in Rototuna and Te Rapa. She is South African by birth, Indian by ethnicity, Fijian-Indian-Muslim by marriage and has a 100% Kiwi can-do attitude. She wants sustainability measures to be a way of life, social inclusion to be the norm, mental and physical health and wellbeing to be a priority for the rich and poor and the most vulnerable communities being offered an equal opportunity to thrive.
You can keep up with Kesh on her:
Q&A with Kesh
1. What is your vision for the city?
I want Hamilton to be the best place to live in, and raise a family. As a mum, I want a strong, sustainable (both environmentally and financially) city for future generations. As a business owner, I want a Council that works hard to ensure a strong local economy. As a pharmacist, I want a city that prioritises the health needs of its people - healthy living conditions, safe communities, food and shelter for the homeless, and improve mental health of residents through providing adequate green spaces and collaborating with local community groups to find innovative ways to achieve this.
2. Why did you decide to run in this year’s elections?
Many lives changed on 15th March 2019 – I met the victims in hospital. The ripples of this terror attack awoke in me and triggered an innate need to help more people. To do more. And I saw a gap in my home city. Hamilton is growing and we need leaders who represent our diverse population. By being a councillor I will be able to use my skills and insights as a young businesswoman, pharmacist and mum to help shape our city for future generations while helping as many people as I can along the way. I care, I listen and I work hard.
3. What are your top 3 priorities in your campaign?
I want a diverse city council that
- Spends carefully
- Improves communities
- Sustains our environment
4. What’s been your biggest learning in your campaigning?
I have learnt about the huge concern that exists in our city. People don’t feel engaged. They can’t relate to the current council and don’t trust our governance team. I have learnt that there is a large group of young and diverse people who want to be heard. They have concerns, similar to my own priorities, about the future of Hamilton. There is so much support for new candidates to bridge the gap that currently exists. My personal learning is one of resilience and trusting in my own potential.
5. What do you think needs to be done to engage young people in voting?
People need candidates and councillors who understand them and who they can relate to. We need a Council who works actively and collaboratively to grow interest and engagement through communication channels that young people use. Everyone – young and old – needs to feel valued and listened to. We need to eliminate barriers and also improve civic education, possibly starting from a young age.
6. What skills and experience do you bring to the table?
I care - I am a co-founder of a charity called Barefeet NZ. We collect new and used shoes and pass it onto people who need it
I do – I organize many small scale community initiatives such as the annual “Local Shoebox Xmas” and blanket, beanie and bra donations
I understand numbers - I co-own and run 2 busy and successful pharmacy businesses
I work hard – I re-built and ran the Indian Student Association at Otago University, earning a prestigious Gold Award for my efforts
I am involved in, and an ex-committee member of, the Rototuna Business Network
7. What sets you apart from other candidates?
I already work to help and serve my community everyday as a pharmacist. Through my experience as a pharmacist, a business leader, and a mum, I have learnt to understand people and address concerns head on. I am easily relatable, a good listener and efficient in everything I do. I can also relate to, and form a link for, many communities – young families, small businesses, ethnic groups, the elderly, the vulnerable and health professionals. I genuinely care and want to help people and our city be the best version of itself.