After winning the Paekākāriki-Raumati ward seat at the age of 18 last election, councillor Sophie Handford has announced she will seek re-election again this year.
Confirming her aspirations to be re-elected by the Paekākāriki-Raumati ward this October, Sophie said there is so much more to do and believes now is the time.
"Now more than ever we need councillors committed to standing up and getting on with the mahi, to ensure positive outcomes for our people and planet," Sophie said.
"We have a huge opportunity in our midst, as we continue to recover from Covid-19 to centre our focus on the wellbeing and mana of our diverse communities and support our most vulnerable.
"We have a huge opportunity to enable and create greener, more sustainable and accessible townships, which prioritise active modes of transport in tackling the climate crisis."
Tackling the climate crisis on a national level from her youth, Sophie has continued to advocate and speak up for many causes along with becoming a sought after speaker at events, inspiring not just the next generation, but those with many years on herself.
While finding working in local government can be a slow game, Sophie has learnt that there is a place for her youthful determination.
"For me, one of the biggest challenges has been self-belief.
"It can sometimes be easy to feel like there isn't a place for our energy and hope within local government but actually, that's exactly what we collectively need."
While challenging, this has become a highlight for Sophie.
"In a personal capacity, a main highlight has been bearing witness to more and more young people grasping and stepping into their power within our local government systems across Aotearoa.
"Knowing that my team and I contributed to this in some way will forever be a highlight, and I hope we'll continue to see it through this year's election."
Nearing the end of her first term, Sophie said the work she has started is not complete and she would like the opportunity to continue working hard for future generations.
"I've led the charge to get further funding for Raumati Village's reinvigoration, and the establishment of a Raumati community board.
"With my youth portfolio, we've seen investment across the district in expanding youth services, with money now committed for exploring a youth development space in Ōtaki.
"We signed off on our Climate Emergency Action Framework and made climate considerations mandatory on all reports coming to our council table."
Sophie said she is proud to sit within a team that recognises the need to make a change, to enhance our environment and uplift rangatahi across the district.
"As I look around today, so much more still needs to be done, and with changing circumstances in Kāpiti, we have a golden window of opportunity."
Sophie's mission is to create the best possible tomorrow for people and the planet.
"My priority areas next triennium are seeing our Kāpiti whānau thriving, in connected, socially and environmentally resilient communities with roofs over their heads, ensuring the planet has a voice at every level of decision making through considered and courageous inter-generationally planning and better connecting our council table, bringing together councillors to foster increased collaboration on the wider vision for our district while increasing council's engagement with the community on day to day decision making."