Anxiety forces Berglund from Bendigo council race

NEXT TIME: Former Lockwood ward candidate Emma Berglund has withdrawn from the council race but has not ruled out another attempt at public office in the future. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

NEXT TIME: Former Lockwood ward candidate Emma Berglund has withdrawn from the council race but has not ruled out another attempt at public office in the future. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

A one-time local government candidate whose name does not feature on the final list of council contenders has said she withdrew from the electoral race because of a battle with anxiety.

Emma Berglund announced in July she would run for one of three Lockwood ward seats, with disability services and environmental care at the forefront of her political platform.

The 34-year-old even went so far as to fill out the 200-word candidate statement that would have been included in the voting pack sent to Bendigo residents.

“But the closer it all came up to happening, I thought, 'Nope, I can't do it',” she said.

“It's the public element of it. And because there is a vote, and there's so many people in the vote, I really hated the idea of standing up and saying 'I’m better than all these people'.” 

Because there is a vote, and there's so many people in the vote, I really hated the idea of standing up and saying 'I’m better than all these people'. - Emma Burgland, former council candidate

Anxiety is a part of the autism spectrum disorder with which Ms Berglund lives.   

The public pressure would not abate after the election either, she believed, and said she had learnt from the experience of councillors outspoken in the debate over a proposed mosque construction in Bendigo. 

“As soon as you stuff up, everyone knows about it,” Ms Berglund said.

In her view, the community could afford to be more forgiving, reprimanding public officials with “a wrap on the knuckles” then letting them get on with their job.

While she said the decision had disappointed followers keen to have a young mother on council – Ms Berglund has two children and and expecting another next year – she would not count out another tilt at political life if her anxiety improved. 

“It’s part of my personality. I do enjoy getting into discussions about democracy, and who should be in power,” she said. 

Asked if she thought the issues about which she was passionate would still be represented, Ms Berglund was hopeful. 

“There’s a lot of good candidates out there.”

She said she now knew to whom she could turn when wanting to share ideas or concerns for her community.

Thirty-two candidates will vie for just nine City of Greater Bendigo council positions in October’s vote. They are just some of the 2100 Victorians to put their hand up this year for local government positions.

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