Dawn Matthews launches Murray Bridge mayoral bid
She's an op shop owner, church leader and everybody's aunty. Could she become the city's mayor in 2022?
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To those who know her, Dawn Matthews is everybody’s aunty.
She’s quick to offer a cuppa or a piece of banana cake, a listening ear or a comforting word.
But two months from now, she might have a new role to take on.
She’s running to become the next mayor of Murray Bridge.
With Brenton Lewis retiring, the job will be up for grabs, and Wayne Thorley – his deputy – will have a fair chance at succeeding him.
But Ms Matthews could be a different kind of mayor: one with the interests of the battlers in her community closest to her heart.
That was why she and her husband started the Shared Table, the op shop she runs out of a shed on the corner of Verdun Road and Montgomery Avenue.
“I’ll stand at the door and ask people, ‘do you want to save money?’ and they’ll say ‘of course’,” she said.
“I offer them a food voucher and they’ll ask, ‘am I eligible?’ and I’ll respond with ‘if you want to save money’.
“They’ll say, ‘why did you ask me?’ and the volunteers will tell them that I ask everyone.”
If you were told to close your eyes and picture a mayor, that might not be the image that came to mind.
But Ms Matthews suggested Murray Bridge could use a different kind of mayor: someone who’d sooner take her lunch on the factory floor than up in the staff room with the suits, or who would open her home to anyone in need.
She admitted that she still had plenty to learn about the ins and outs of the mayoral job, despite her experience on the council’s community advisory committee.
But she wouldn’t have been content as an ordinary councillor, she said.
“I’ve always been a person for the top job,” she said.
“I’ve owned my own business – I was very successful back in New Zealand.”
She had sales and marketing responsibilities at Lincoln Industries, a toy company; and she ran an upmarket boutique in the Auckland suburb of Papatoetoe for several years.
Still, her greatest priority as mayor would be supporting community groups and helping people cope with the cost of living – an extension of the work she was doing now.
“I’ve got nothing to lose,” she said.
“I feel like I’m the mayor of my own community anyway.”
Two months from now, if voters go her way, that title could be official.
Read more: Dawn Matthews will not be silenced
How to vote in the council elections
Voting in this year’s council elections will be by post.
Residents and registered voters should receive their ballot papers between October 14 and 20, and will be due to return them by November 10.
Votes will be counted and a winner declared on November 12.
More information: www.ecsa.sa.gov.au.
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