Feature: Michal Siewniak on why he has decided to stand as a candidate in May

A lot of people think that I am mad. A lot of people think that politics, even at the local level, has never been more toxic.

Those who decide to stand, often do it for a number of different reasons. I feel strongly that being a Councillor is not like a vocation; it is a vocation. You do it, because you believe in it and you feel a sense of civic duty. Most of the time, you want to make a difference and improve your local community.

Standing is never easy. There are a lot of barriers and obstacles to overcome. If you want to do it, unless you stand if a super safe seat (do they still exist?), you have to put a lot of hard work into it; casework, leaflet delivery and canvassing, which I personally absolutely love! Door-knocking gives me a great joy, even when I don’t get a warm reception on the doorstep. Standing, whilst being a “foreigner” is probably even harder. As soon as I open my mouth, people know that I am not necessarily very “local”. This, in all honesty, doesn’t bother me too much; I will never judge someone based on their accent or the colour of their passport.

It is a wonderful feeling and more importantly a huge privilege to REPRESENT a particular area and a particular community. Moreover, being elected, at the local or national level, means being at the SERVICE for other people.

I absolutely love the civic process; I enjoy listening, talking and working with people. This will never change. Speaking to residents’ on regular basis gives me a fantastic opportunity to find out how people feel about politics at local and national levels. It worries me hugely that so many individuals that I’ve encountered feel deflated and disheartened. Some are not planning to vote. The sense of “political desperation” and political apathy is felt throughout the country.

Not always, but often, lack of passion for politics, drive and energy is also missing in many of the Council Chambers in our towns and cities. I do hope that I will be able to change that!

I often wonder what my unique selling point is. How can I complement the existing composition of my local Welwyn Hatfield Liberal Democrat Party and the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council as a whole?

Since settling here from Poland in 2005, I have been active in the local community. I am an honorary Trustee of our Polish Saturday School and a Trustee of New Europeans. I am particularly passionate about the civic process and I have worked with local and national community groups and organisations to democratically “mobilise” members of the community.

Since 2013, I have supported Parliament Week and have run a number of events and workshops to empower residents from “hard to reach” groups. Locally, I am passionate about increasing participation of residents in decision making processes and boosting their “democratic confidence”. If elected, I would support the most vulnerable members of our community, working together with other organisations and community groups. I would do my best to ensure that residents of my ward have a “voice” and that I am their “Ambassador”. As a Councillor, I will ensure that Welwyn Hatfield Council works to meet the needs of residents and that dialogue between the Council and residents continues to develop. I will play an active part in creating a sustainable environment for growth and collaboration between a number of sectors of our economy and community. 

The journey has begun! Let’s hope that the hours that I’ve already put into my campaign will pay off! The support from my party colleagues is fantastic and the feedback on the doorstep is quite good, too. Let’s put PEOPLE first and we will never fail. If we do, we will must always stand up as giving up is not an option!

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