The sun was shining on the streets of Westport on Tuesday evening, when the Mayo Advertiser met up with one of the new faces trying to make her mark on the door steps and get a seat on Mayo County Council for the first time. Joan Geraghty is well known to the readers of this paper, having worked here as the acting editor of the paper in recent years and previously worked as a journalist for a number of years in The Mayo News. Her experience in seeing how the council works at close quarters over those years is one of the reasons that she decided to put herself forward for election for the first time.
“I’ve worked around the council for a long time as a journalist and now I’m working with Citizens Information, so I’ve good experience of seeing how things work and dealing with the issues and concerns that people have in their daily lives,” she explained. As the campaign enters its final few days, the door knocking and the meeting and greeting has become the norm, according to Joan. “It’s about getting out there and getting to meet the people, it’s been a great experience so far and I’m loving every bit of it, but it’s challenging” she told this writer.
Joan and her team have been busy for the past number of weeks trying to cover as much of the massive West Mayo area as they can and party area divisions allow. “We’ve been out all day so already, so trying to cover as much of the area as we can. It’s important to go and meet the people and let them put a face to the name on the doorstep.” With Fianna Fa?il getting a shellacking from the public in the General Election in 2011, Joan decided that she wanted to be one of the new faces of the renewal of the party, and got involved in the local cumann and has been building her profile within the party since.
Distillery Road in the heart of the town is the destination of choice for the evening’s canvass and the response from the people on the doors was generally positive and it has been that way on the vast majority of doorsteps, she explained. “The people who answer generally want to talk and I enjoy talking to them about the issues on the doors, it’s what this job is about, and hopefully I’ll be able to represent them and their problems if I get elected on May 23. There hasn’t been too many people who just don’t want to see you, maybe we’ve come across one or two each day, but that’s generally any politician they don’t want to hear from and it’s not just one party or person.”
Joan and her team of canvassers have their route well planned and are armed with literature for those who want to read more about her ideas and goals and for those who were not home when they came calling. Rather than have a generic ‘sorry I missed you’ card, Joan said she likes to leave a personal message on the cards. “I decided against getting a card to say sorry I missed you and like to write anoteonmycardasIgo along and leave it in.”
It is going to be a tough battle with 17 people going for the seven seats in an area that stretches from Belmullet to Louisburgh, but Joan is confident that she will be able to take one of them. “We started off well and you can feel there is a bit of a momentum growing as the weeks count down to the election. It’s been something I’ve enjoyed so far, and I’m glad I went forward.”
As the Mayo Advertiser left and let Joan and her team get on with the rest of their canvass for the evening there were lots more doors to knock on between now and next Thursday evening, but she was determined to get to them all.