Ezekiel Robson, who has low vision, was fed up with the under representation of people with disabilities in leadership roles.

So he decided to do something about it.

He is running to be on the Manurewa Local Board and the Counties Manukau District Health Board in the upcoming Auckland local elections.

“Manurewa deserves leaders who better reflect the communities they represent and serve. I want to see people on the Manurewa Local Board who understand discrimination, and the sense of powerlessness that marginalised communities sometimes feel.”

He’s running to be on the Manukau DHB board to also provide better representation.

“People with disabilities must have genuine access to high quality health care at hospitals and in the community on the same basis as others, especially because we may already face additional health inequalities.  We should always be treated with respect and have an opportunity to input into decisions, policies and services that affect us.”

The Access Alliance, which the Blind Foundation is a member, is campaigning for a fully accessible New Zealand for everyone. Ezekiel has been part of the campaign and learnt a few skills for running for leadership roles.

“Training as an Access for All advocate helped me to see how a compelling case for inclusion and participation in society can positively influence politicians to act for the common good of all members of the community.

“Getting the opportunity to meet with MPs to lobby for better accessibility legislation gave me a greater understanding of elected members’ role to listen and offer ideas to help assist local constituents.

“It confirmed my passion to demonstrate the unique knowledge and advocacy skills I could bring to serving my local community.”

He says that if he gets elected his focus will be on accessible housing, improving public transport and better investment of rates that will deliver better outcomes across the community – especially people with disabilities, young families, Māori, Pacific and migrant communities.

For his DHB role, he says he would restore external disabled and other community representative roles and address the issues of long waitlists.

“I also want to tackle carparking issues, poor quality buildings and make sure CMDHB meets targets for faster access to cancer treatment.”

For anyone thinking about becoming a candidate, Ezekiel has some sound words of advice.

“Stepping forward as a candidate is a significant decision that will leave a lasting impression on you, your family and your community.

“It really gets you thinking about what your values are, and your vision for people in the community. Support from family is essential since a successful campaign demands a lot of time and work, both planning and getting out and about talking to people.

“Being a candidate can be a great way to role model the diverse talents that disabled people can bring to politics and public life.

“It is really worth it – just be smart; take note of previous election results – which groups typically win or lose in your area, and figure out your most likely path to success.”

Auckland local election voting packs will be sent out 20 – 25 September. Auckland Council will provide an assistive voting service and more information will be available on their website closer to the time.