With the elections looming on the horizon we had a chat with the DA candidate for our area, Helen Carstens.
Helen Carstens has been the Ward Councillor for Edgemead and Bothasig (Ward 5) since August 2014 where she came in through a by-election after the previous Ward Councillor went on to the National Assembly as a Member of Parliament, creating a space for a new Councillor for the area.
Councillor Carstens achieved a 99.67% victory for the Democratic Alliance in that by-election. She has been selected by the DA as the candidate for the upcoming Local Government Elections on 3 August.
We decided to track her down and ask her a few questions – her schedule proved to be very busy, as we soon found out.
The Guardian: What motivates you to do this?
Helen Carstens: It is very difficult to put my finger on the exact motivation. I think it is a combination of things that motivate me.
TG: Can you elaborate on that?
HC: I think it stems from my long involvement with politics as well as with the previous Councillor. I enjoy helping people and I think that stems from my background in psychology. I believe in the DA and believe it is the only party that has a solution for the issues facing our country.
TG: What is your greatest achievement in your term of office?
HC: I think that I can, without a doubt, say the change to the Bothasig Clinic. The clinic was a sore point for many years due to the lack of services. It focuses on primary healthcare services, which are just not enough for the needs of the community.
Attempts to upgrade the services were made many times with no success. When I was elected in August 2014 I made it my mission to change that and have a permanent expanded range of services available.
It certainly was not easy but I was relentless in my approach and I would not let it slide. The fact that it is currently changing hands to Provincial Health and a range of expanded services is something I am most grateful for as it will assist so many residents.
TG: So, when will the actual change-over take place?
HC: That is a difficult one to answer because of the many variables. However I can confirm that it has come to Sub Council for approval in June. It will now appear before the Full Council for approval. Council resumes in the new term which starts after 3 August. And obviously should the DA retain the Cape and I, the ward, it will certainly be approved, it will be the best day and I cannot wait, as once it is approved it will be a matter of weeks.
TG: Can you give us an idea of some of the challenges you face?
HC: There certainly are a number of challenges but I think the fact that not everyone fully understands the workings of the council and the municipality, and that certain procedures must be followed and time frames differ greatly from that of a corporate environment.
TG: How does your family handle your busy schedule?
HC: I am certainly blessed to have the most fantastic family. They understand fully and support me in every way. I am indeed extremely thankful.
I often feel very guilty for being away from home so often, so their support and understanding means the world to me.
TG: What are your plans for the new term?
HC: Should I be elected, and the DA retain this ward, there are so many. This will be a full term of five years as opposed to the short one and a half years of this current one, so will provide me with more time to plan and do.
I want to build on expanding sporting opportunities. I would like to look at a development for the seniors that can provide a frail care facility and is income based. I would like to create more community involvement in open spaces by way of food gardens, dog parks and more. I have a very long wish list, so these are just some of my wishes and they are not cast in stone.
We did not have any more time so had to conclude with the Councillor at this point as she rushed off to another engagement. We thank her for taking the time out of her busy schedule to chat with us and wish her well in her campaign.