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Openly gay man confirmed for Chch City Council

Fri 14 Oct 2016 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

With the results of the local elections confirmed today, Christchurch City Council now has an openly gay man as a Councillor.   Representing Christchurch City’s Central Ward is Deon Swiggs, who was elected after receiving 1,400 votes. Born in Nelson and having moved to Christchurch in 2009 where much of his family is, Swiggs has been has worked in civil society since the 2010 earthquake that devastated the city. An ex-navy man and recreational pilot, Swiggs set up Rebuild Christchurch following the first earthquake and after the second earthquake struck, he says “we became a really import platform to disseminate information to people and from the we set up a charity which brought a whole lot of people together who had the same sort of vision, the same sort of desire to help the communities of Christchurch and we just pulled all of our resources together.” During his time running Rebuild Christchurch, Swiggs has completed a undergraduate degree, a graduate diploma and has just completed an MBA. He began to wind down the charity to stand for Council, running a campaign with a focus on “Communication, engagement, vision for the future of Christchurch and leadership to make sure we can deliver the aspirations of our communities.” As the results came in Swiggs says “I felt very relieved, it was a very hard campaign, I’ve traditionally been a labour person but I decided to run independently because the people of Christchurch want independent voices. “That’s what they’ve been telling me, they want independent voices at the Council table , especially in Christchurch central to work with the central government, to work with different agencies who are rebuilding our city without politics involved so that’s why I ran independently. Labour ran a pretty strong campaign against me, there was also Green Party person as well, both very competent Māori women. They were good strong opposition, it was great when we finally got to the end, the team that I had was relieved that we finished and we actually had a good result.” During his campaign, being openly gay was never an issue and Swiggs says “I am who I am and I believe in who I am and I also believe in the people that I want to represent. I’ve been around for long enough that it just never came up.” He says because of his sexuality he is “very aware of oppression and minorities and I’m very keen to make the people who are oppressed or who are in a minority groups have a voice that’s equal to anybody else’s voice.”    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Friday, 14th October 2016 - 1:22pm

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