The Colcestrian’s Q&A with… Elisa Vasquez-Walters

So, that last blog was pretty well received!  Only got the MOST VIEWS YET and has been circulated around like nobody’s business…
I’m so thankful that everyone enjoyed getting to know the first candidate for Councillor to be introduced in this project.  It was really good for me to get that information out there and Simon was brilliant to kick it all off.
This time I have another engaged citizen for you – a citizen of Colchester but also of the world (aren’t we all?)  Some of you may already be aware of this lady as she is very much involved in Colchester matters, but she’s now stepping up to the plate and seeing if she can represent her adopted town with a seat on its council.
May I introduce to you, Elisa Vasquez-Walters, who is standing as Labour Candidate for Mile End Ward

Introduction
Elisa says: “I have lived in Colchester since I was 3 when I came to the UK from Chile with my parents who were escaping Pinochet’s regime.  The 40th anniversary of us arriving to the UK is this May and I very much consider myself a Colchester girl.  I grew up on the Greenstead Estate which I absolutely loved and have since mostly lived in town. FB_IMG_1460970180743
I was educated locally and for much of my working life have worked in the Criminal Justice system.
I am married and have 2 daughters and a new granddaughter who totally rocks my world.
I’ve always been politically active, it’s impossible I think to come from a regime like we did in Chile and not be, so it just feels like it’s part and parcel of who I am.
I believe really strongly in equality and in giving everyone a fair crack of the whip but also a helping hand when needed.”

Colcestrians who popped to Uni of Essex last Autumn may have seen Elisa on a certain panel with a certain prospective party leader.
Or perhaps be aware of her work with Essex Feminist Collective.
She also pitched at the incredible Colchester Soup.
Now she’s gracing the humble Colcestrian with answers to his questions! 🙂
We chatted a little bit before Elisa faced her Q&A and I must say that she was very unassuming and wished to blow everyone else’s trumpets, but she’s pretty impressive in her own right, in my opinion!

 

ColcestrianSimple one to get going – what’s your full name and what do you like to known as?  

Elisa – Elisa Vasquez-Walters, mostly known as Elisa. As we helpfully have to publish our middle names when stand as candidate I also sometimes get called Mabes or Aunty Mabel, but you have to be a pretty brave person to get away with that one!                          

 

Colcestrian – What do you like most about the Ward you are standing for, and what made you want to stand this time?

Elisa – This time I am one of the candidates for Mile End, as you know I agreed to stand in a non target ward which essentially meant I was happy to be placed anywhere in Colchester on the basis that I love this whole town and was happy to represent Labour in any part of it.

 

Colcestrian – If you don’t live in the Ward you’re standing for, why did you choose that Ward rather than your own?

Elisa – I don’t live in Mile End and there were other people that wanted to stand in the ward in which I live. Although i think it’s great to have candidates local to the ward in reality the amount of people wanting to stand as candidate varies around the town.

 

Colcestrian – What political party are you aligned with, if any, and why?

Elisa – I am a member of the Labour Party and believe this is the party that best represents my political standpoint i.e fairness, equality, social justice etc.

Screenshot_2016-04-20-23-30-57
Elisa (right) on the panel with Jeremy Corbyn at UofE

Colcestrian – Do you think your political party’s actions at a national level will have an effect on you locally?

Elisa – I would certainly hope so!!  I find it very strange when local politicians talk about doing the best for Colchester ‘despite’ what is going on nationally.  Of course the wider political picture impacts directly on local decisions and if you don’t believe in what your party is doing nationally then why are you standing for that party?  Whilst there will be local deviations, I think the essence of what you stand for will be guided by a national steering.

 

Colcestrian – Everyone needs a break – what are your favourite hobbies?

Elisa – I have loads…I love live music, art,  stand up, eating out, walking, singing…..we’re a pretty sociable family!

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Colcestrian – When not doing politics, what does your day usually consist of?

Elisa – Hmmmm, wasn’t sure about this one; is politics something that you ‘do’?  Politics just is… most, if not every decision we make are political ones…….anyway, that’s a bigger discussion.  I spend a lot of time wondering at the sheer beauty and amazingness of my grand-daughter, I work full time in what was once known as the Probation Service and I am often to be seen walking my two dogs.  My week nights tend to be pretty busy with meetings and the weekends are for family and friends.  

 

Colcestrian – How do you feel Colchester Borough Council currently performs for Colchester?

Elisa – Pretty good, I’m realistic about where local authorities are at in terms of funding.  I’m chuffed that they built council houses.  There are things we could improve obviously.

 

Colcestrian – What is the best thing about Colchester and what one thing would you change tomorrow about Colchester if you could?

Elisa – The best thing about Colchester is the contribution we make to arts and culture; we are historically second to none and I am always so proud to show any one around.  Our town is packed full of musicians, artists, makers of every sort and I love that!

If I could change one thing it would be environmental, i.e less rubbish on the streets, less pollution from cars, etc

 

Colcestrian – Who are your heroes?

Elisa – There are loads of people I admire and owe a lot to, in terms of guidance and positive examples.  They are all people I have met through the normal walk of life and so nobody famous I can particularly name check I’m afraid

 

Colcestrian – What would you do to promote disabled rights if you are a Councillor after the election?

Elisa I think it is crucial to consult, empower and give visibility to all members of our society.  Disabled people are having a particularly difficult time at the moment and it is really important that they are given a strong voice locally.  I would want to see a disabled person’s forum which the council consult with around access issues etc and that could play a part in equality impact assessing of policies and decisions.  Ultimately though you need to see disabled people in positions of power; councils and governments should be wholly representative of the communities they represent.
I would want to see a disabled person’s forum which the council consult with around access issues etc and that could play a part in equality impact assessing of policies and decisions.

 

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Essex Feminist Collective logo

Colcestrian – What would you do for women’s rights in the town once election day is passed?

 


Elisa – 
Much as above, we are 51% of the population after all.  This is the split I want to see in the council.  Equality is better for everyone.

 

 

Colcestrian – What is your view on the spread of fines for the rough sleeping and homeless?

Elisa – I think this is terrible.  Why on earth would you fine somebody for this terrible misfortune?  And completely unrealistic in any case.  Any council trying to enforce this would spend more trying to recover the money than they would ever gain in collecting the fines.  It’s a cruel and unnecessary policy.  Sad to see it just up the road in Chelmsford but pleased to see the people of Chelmsford mount such a sturdy campaign against it. 

 

Colcestrian – Do you think the ‘Living Wage’ is truly a living wage?

Elisa – The National Living Wage is simply a new name for the minimum wage.  The calculation for an actual living wage  is £8.25 per hour for outside of London (Living Wage Foundation).  That is over £1 in difference and the new minimum age only applies to those over 25!!!  No, it isn’t!

The National Living Wage is simply a new name for the minimum wage.

 

Colcestrian – Are you happy to keep promoting Colchester as a welcoming place for refugees?

Elisa – Absolutely.

 

Colcestrian – What is the biggest problem in the Ward you are standing in?

Elisa – I think that the issues in Colchester are common ones: traffic, roads, access to  council services, etc.

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Elisa pitching at Colchester Soup

 

 

Colcestrian – Which green and ecologically-wise policies do you think Colchester borough should instigate?

Elisa – Green policies are a huge issue and I think we need to go much further in everything we do.  I would want to see a much better use of public transport (needs to be so much cheaper), park and ride, parking, anything that gets less cars on the road.  I would love to see access to the town centre in cars greatly limited, fines for not recycling etc.  We would have to work with the County Council as the Highways responsibilities lie with them.

 

Colcestrian – Tollgate Village, Northern Gateway… views?  

Elisa – I think we should concentrate on the town centre first – there is the room to develop both areas but it is has to be right for the town.  Do we really want another faceless shopping area which could be in any town in any part of the country?

 

Colcestrian – Do you think our current government and electoral system is fit for purpose?

Elisa – Not at all.  When we are represented by a government who did not get a majority vote, but has all of the power, something is very very wrong.  There is much we need to do in this area.

 

Colcestrian – Are you having second thoughts?

Elisa – Always.


 

And there you have it, again!  My quest continues, to introduce to you… us… the Candidates standing for your votes in Wards across Colchester Borough.  I hope you enjoyed this second Q&A.  Please, once more I ask that you share with friends and family, on social media, email, etc to get the views out there before Election Day.

If you are a Candidate who wants to show the public your real side, take part in The Colcestrian’s Colchester Candidate Q&A!  Drop me an email on colcestrianperson@gmail.com – Your face could be here!

The Colcestrian

Mile End Ward
All the Candidates in Mile End Ward
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