Andrianna Benjamin started her first business when she was 13.
Owning and running her own shoe store, while completing her education via home-schooling, was just the start for this self-described leader and entrepreneur. Now, she’s ready to contribute to the community she loves in a new way: by nominating to be a Snowy Valleys councillor.
The huge amount of community support she received while making her mind up didn’t hurt either.
“I actually had quite a lot of people give me a candidate kit,” she said.
“I had about 40 sitting on my desk! People knew my ideas and knew that I had potential in loving our shire and making it grow, and I just thought – ‘okay! In my 70-hour working week I can do this as well!’
“I’m very new to local government, and if I were to get in, with my background, I would be focused on growth, and for people to be happy in the communities and region that we’re in. That’s the main thing. And working together as a team, as councillors, to make this a better region.”
Her priorities as a councillor would be upgrading sporting facilities, and promoting the Snowy Valleys more as a tourism destination – starting with moving the Visitor Information Centre to a more noticeable spot.
“I’d like to see it somewhere more visible, bigger – for myself, I’d like to see it where the swampland is between the soccer grounds to McAuley, when you’re coming down Gocup, opposite where Tumut Valley Tyres used to be. That’s actually all Council land, and it’s the entrance to Tumut, and it’s the worst entrance possible.
“I’d like that to be where the information centre should be, and we should make it bigger, because that’s where potential tourists will be coming in and it’s not advisable, what we have at the moment.”
As the General Manager of the Tumut Back Clinic she also has an interest in medical services locally, and in the financial side of local government. She knows Tumut like the back of her hand – interacting with “just under 1000 people a week” – and she’s looking forward to working constructively with Tumbarumba.
“I’d like to do more research into Tumbarumba,” she said.
“I know that the whole amalgamation is up in the air; some people are happy, some people are unhappy, and everyone’s got their own opinion.
“But I’m the kind of person where, if that’s how it’s going to be, we move forward and make it better. You can’t go backwards, and we just have to work as a team and make it better. That’s my philosophy in life, and that’s how I like it. Moving forward. If the doors are closed, leave them closed and keep going.”
The elephant in the room with Andrianna is that she’s a good couple of decades younger than the next youngest person on the candidates list.
She believes that this is a positive, and that her new ideas combined with the experience of many of the other candidates will prove an unstoppable combination.
“There’s some good experience with the candidates at the moment, and that is a really good thing,” she said.
“Obviously we can’t all be green in local government, and it’s good to have experience behind you as well as new blood.
“I’ve been living here practically all my life, and I just think that it’s time for a little bit of a change within our council itself. It’s time for us to have younger blood and more ideas, moving forward and making things happen.
“I do think that Tumut can excel, we’ve got room to grow, and we’ve got potential.”