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  • Harriet Main

CYW Candidate Profile - Samantha Dennis

"Conservative Young Women has been invaluable to me, they have really held my hand since day one"

Samantha Dennis is 33 years old, and has lived and worked in Kingsbridge for the past twelve years. She is a new mother to a six month old boy, a keen walker and an amateur gardener with her own allotment. Samantha has been running the local tourist information centre for the past ten years and before that worked for the National Trust. She also organises several local events including her town’s fair week and Christmas market. Samantha is a trustee for a charity that provides activities for those with learning differences and secretary of her local chamber of commerce.

Why did you get involved in Conservative Young Women?

I am not sure I had much choice to be honest 😂 before I knew it I was invited to join several WhatsApp groups and it has very quickly taken over any spare time I manage to find in between changing nappies and singing nursery rhymes. It has been invaluable to me, in keeping my brain ticking over and having a group of women to talk to as I navigate early motherhood during lockdown.

How have Conservative Young Women supported you in standing?

They have really held my hand from day one. The CWO has filled the gaps in knowledge, training and practical assistance that my association was unable to provide and pushed me out of comfort zone to try new things.

What kind of jobs have you had in the past?

I worked in an Opticians, and as a librarian part-time while studying, then got my first full-time job as a Visitor Experience Manager for the National Trust. Ten years ago I moved from there to manage a Tourist Information Centre in the South Hams and now fulfil that role as well as working part-time as a secretary for various organisations.

Who’s your role model/ political hero?

My role model ever since I was little has been Lois Lane, I have always wanted to be as confident as she always comes across and not give up on a story, or in my case a project. My husband can’t fly but he’s about as close to Superman as I think I’m going to get.

How do you think we can encourage more young women into politics?

Ask them and then when they express even the slightest bit of interest, don’t let them go. Offer compassion, support and training so that they can be the best they can be, but also introduce and educate young women on politics from school age – I don’t feel I had that and have been playing catch-up ever since.

What experience do you think you could bring?

I have lived in a large city and a rural area. I was the first in my extended family to attend university. I have worked for a national charity and run my own business. I now have a large network of contacts in business, tourism and retail. I like to think that all this allows me to see and understand lots of different people’s life experiences.

Why did you decide to get involved in Politics?

To begin with I had no idea which political party I should belong to. Having never studied politics I didn’t really understand the difference between left and right wing, let alone anything else. The Conservative Party spotted my potential though and have nurtured me ever since. I now know it is the place for me and aligns with my views and outlook on life.

Why did you decide to stand to be a local Councillor?

I love everything about my local area and have an insatiable desire to find out as much as I possibly can. I spend most of my free time helping out my friends with their businesses and general life stuff. When I consider everyone in my community to be a friend, what better way than becoming a Councillor to spend even more of my time doing what I love.

What would you like to achieve as a Councillor?

I would love to see people engaging more with their local councils, feeling like they can have a say and helping them to make change happen. My biggest annoyance is a fragmented approach - disparate organisations all trying to achieve the same thing. I would love to tidy things up a little and help our councils and communities to be as efficient and effective as they possibly can be. I would also just love to have a general tidy up and see our streets, road signs and town centres looking the best they possibly can.

How do you think you could achieve these goals?

By caring about the details, doing my homework, and employing one of my biggest skills – networking, to build relationships and make things happen.

What are the biggest challenges can you see facing local councils?

A disassociation, apathy and mistrust of councils by the public. Most people don’t understand what their council tax pays for and the roles and responsibilities that the different levels of government have. I worry that without that ground-up approach, councils will start, or continue to put in place policies and projects that are seen as a waste of money, thereby compounding the problem further.

How are you going to communicate with your constituents?

Lockdown has really impacted on how I would usually approach this, so right now it will be over social media and by making phone calls. I have set-up numerous Facebook groups to attract different groups of people. I will encourage conversation in these groups and then closer to the elections, use them to share my campaign material.

What is your current favourite Netflix show?

The Durrells – it’s just easy-viewing and makes me giggle.

If you went on Mastermind, what would your subject be?

My hometown – Kingsbridge – it’s my job to know everything about it!

If you could have dinner with any three people, who would it be?

Monty Don, Margaret Thatcher and William Shakespeare

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love walking and am constantly on the lookout for new footpaths. I am a keen gardener and have just taken on an allotment. Most of all though, I love sitting in a hot tub with a glass of prosecco, either with friends or with a good book.

Conservative Young Women are dedicated to encouraging and supporting young women in the Conservative Party. We are on a mission to get more women into public office at every level and we provide support to anyone who wants to stand.

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