For the second year running Glen Innes, Mayor Carol Sparks has been nominated and shortlisted for the McKinnon Prize in Emerging Political Leadership.
The award is to recognise political leaders for making a strong impact in a year of crisis.
"I'm very proud to be on a shortlist list of such stellar nominees," Ms Sparks said.
The others on the shortlist for the 2021 McKinnon Prize in Emerging Political Leadership are Dr Anne Aly MP, Member for Cowan (WA); Cr Fiona Cunningham, Councillor, Coorparoo Ward (Brisbane City Council) (QLD); Dr Helen Haines MP, Member for Indi (VIC); Ms Elizabeth Lee MLA, Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Attorney-General, Member for Kurrajong (ACT); and Ms Zali Steggall OAM MP, Member for Warringah (NSW).
While still undecided, Ms Sparks said at the moment she's leaning towards standing for local council again.
"I haven't made up my mind, but this has given me a bit of a boost, and with the things happening in politics at the moment I think they need a bit of grounding by a grandmother," she said.
"I am trying to encourage more young ladies to go into politics because I left it a bit late, so I'm out there supporting them.
"I speak for youth and the underprivileged, and I recognise and respect Aboriginal people.
"I'm also trying to do the best I can in the area of domestic violence.
"What would I do if I didn't stand again - I'm just in the early stages of my political career" she laughed.
Ms Sparks was nominated primarily for leading her community through the horrific 2019/20 fire season that included the Kangawalla fire east of Glen Innes which claimed two lives and destroyed much of Wytaliba.
She was one of the most visible and proactive voices during that time and was a central figure amongst the coalition of regional mayors advocating for greater recognition of the role of climate change in accelerating catastrophic bushfires across Australia.
Her personal story of loss drew national attention to the Glen Innes community.
"My house was badly damaged, my son's house was completely destroyed, my granddaughter's house was completely destroyed, my daughter suffered looking at all that happening around her, and my friends died," she said.
"I've just been down looking at the recovery, and it is starting, but it is slow.
"I look at the blackened ridges and the animals that aren't there, and it's very sad - it's a healing process."
While some may wonder how someone could continue leading a community while dealing with such personal tragedy, Ms Sparks said it helped her keep going.
"Working absolutely helped me cope and the media were marvellous during that time in helping to get my message out," she said.
The McKinnon Prize in Emerging Political Leadership recognises one outstanding Australian politician with fewer than five years in office.
The Prize received hundreds of nominations in 2020, from which the shortlisted nominees were selected for consideration for the 2020 McKinnon Emerging Leader of the Year:
The McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership is an award that recognises two outstanding Australian political leaders each year.
The winners will be announced in March.
The McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership is a non-partisan and independent award that is a collaboration between the Susan McKinnon Foundation and the University of Melbourne through the Melbourne School of Government.
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