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.
Sarah is a community lawyer. She grew up in Hamilton, going to Fairfield College and later studying at the University of Waikato. In 2017, concerned about the unequal burden that the climate crisis is putting on younger generations, she took the government to court for its lack of climate action.
Sarah wants Hamilton to take bold action on climate change; make it safer and easier for people to get around on foot, bike and public transport; and create a long-term housing plan for Hamilton with a focus on affordability and sustainability. She’s also passionate about making our democracy more inclusive.
“A community lawyer and advocate for the environment, committed to making Hamilton a great place to live - both now and into the future.”
- Sarah Thomson
Q&A with Sarah!
1. What is your vision for the city/district/region?
My vision for Hamilton is a low carbon city with a modern transport system, real housing options for people of all incomes, and a healthy environment. It's also a city that values community well-being, celebrates arts and culture and has great public spaces for everyone to enjoy.
2. Why did you decide to run in this year’s elections?
I'm really passionate about how cities can improve the wellbeing of the people living in them. However, the tipping point for me was seeing that we have councillors who deny climate change. We desperately need leaders who understand the urgency of climate change and will work towards ensuring a safe and healthy future for our youth and future generations.
3. What are your top 3 priorities in your campaign?
My top three priorities are Better Transport Choices, with safe walking and biking networks and great public transport. Affordable Housing, with smarter growth and the right balance of housing. And a Healthy Environment, with green spaces, clean waterways and low carbon solutions.
4. What’s been your biggest learning in your campaigning?
My biggest learning has been realising how many people don't understand what the Council does, don't understand the voting process, or just don't want to engage.
5. What do you think needs to be done to engage young people in voting?
We need to teach young people about Council's role in our city, how Council decisions impact on our lives and how the elections work. I would really like to see civics education become part of the high school curriculum.
6. What skills and experience do you bring to the table?
I'm a lawyer and have worked in both commercial and community law. Working through complex issues, asking the right questions, and thinking through all the possible consequences of a decision are important skills I bring to the table, along with a good understanding of policy and legislation. I also have experience in property development and navigating the planning and building process.
7. What sets you apart from other candidates?
I'm the only candidate who is a lawyer (as far as I know). Being younger and committed to sustainability is something I have in common with some of the new candidates but sets me apart from our current councillors!