Protecting jobs, improving infrastructure, reining in development and creating more open spaces are at the top of Katie Hall’s to do list in the Footscray electorate.
The Footscray local was last week confirmed as the Labor candidate for the 2018 state election, following the retirement of sitting member Marsha Thomson.
Ms Hall, 35, headed off a preselection challenge from Maribyrnong deputy mayor Sarah Carter, former councillor Michael Clarke and former prime ministerial staffer Andrew Porter.
She told Star Weekly she was honoured to secure the nomination to represent an area she is the fifth generation of her family to call home.
“I’m a Footscray girl; I live here with my husband and my two-year-old daughter Matilda.
“I come from a long line of people who have lived and worked and contributed to this community, and very proudly so.”
Ms Hall said Footscray is a “constantly intriguing” place that is always in transition.
“It’s a place where migrant communities and refugees have been able to settle in Australian and contribute to that incredible colour and diversity that we have,” she said.
“I really love hearing westside stories; I love hearing why people have come here and made this place their home.”
Ms Hall said living in Footscray as a mother of a two-year-old has opened her eyes to the challenges families face in securing childcare and accessing essential services.
Heritage and environmental issues are also high on her agenda, along with improvements to cycling and other infrastructure.
Ms Hall intends to spend the next 12 months listening to what the area’s residents want from the state government, saying she has no intention of taking for granted a safe seat Labor has held since 1927, still enjoying a 16 per cent margin.
“I believe in the power of effective community and engagement and I’ve worked in roles that require compassion and sensitivity,” she said.
“I’ve had some political roles, I worked for Nicola Roxon and I worked for Julia Gillard for a time, but I see community engagement and community organising as a really important part of what I want to do here in Footscray.”
Ms Hall said her work as the North East Link Authority communications and media manager does not mean she doesn’t also value the need for greater investment in public transport and cycling as well as roads.
“You need a mix of transport solutions. I feel it every day when I walk down Moore Street; we need to get local trucks off our roads.
“With apartments going up we do need to be less reliant on cars. I catch the train every day.”
Ms Hall said she used to be a keen local cyclist, until a near-miss with a truck while cycling under the notorious Napier Street bridge.
“It was terrifying and I just stopped riding my bike, I just lost my confidence on the road.
“We want kids to feel and to be safe on the roads, riding their bike to school and we’re so close to the city, cycling is an obvious thing for people to be doing.”
The next Victorian state election is scheduled to be held on November 24, 2018.