The Atlantic Seaboard will have a new ward councillor after the local government elections on August 3 as current Ward 54 councillor, Jacques Weber, will not be standing for re-election.
The Green Point resident has been in the position since 2014 and spoke to the Atlantic Sun about his time in politics, some of the challenges and the rewards.
Mr Weber, 30, who was born in Cape Town and grew up in Sea Point, has been involved in the community from a young age, even when his peers were more busy focusing on taking a gap year and going to university.
He has worked with various community-based organisations, including a ratepayers’ association.
“The passion for politics was a natural progression and I guess a way of taking my involvement to the next level.”
When he was 17 he joined “Yellow Bib Crime Walk”, which was started by Heather Tager, now the Sea Point Improvement District CEO, and the then ward councillor JP Smith, now Mayco member for safety and security, when crime and grime was at its worst within the ward.
“From there I joined SAPS as a police reservist and was part of SAPS until I announced my candidacy into politics.”
Although a background in SAPS may be unusual for a politician, Mr Weber says it has helped him in better understanding his role.
“It has definitely helped me achieve certain results within the ward.
“Having been part of an enforcement organisation, I know the processes of most enforcement agencies and know what is needed to sort out an issue. Having actual ground experience in crime fighting and policing has also allowed me to relate to our excellent officers within our three City agencies, in terms of their roles in addressing some of the issues.”
One of the most difficult things about being a ward councillor, says Mr Weber, is being on demand 24/7.
“I think constant demand of almost 60 000 residents is one of the most challenging aspects of being a ward councillor. Often people believe that we, as ward councillors, have offices with support staff but this is not correct. Every single email, phone call or social media post is answered solely by me.”
By the end of his term in August, he would have received or responded to close to 60 000 emails and responded to or posted 15 000 social media posts in 24 months.
“Over the past two years I have also met so many different people from all backgrounds, cultures and beliefs which has personally allowed me to see things from various perspectives, for which I am so grateful and this will remain with me for life,” said Mr Weber.
He said the introduction of social media to ward councillors had created many laughs.
“Many of the comments often stated that until they began following me on Facebook, most never knew what a ward councillor did. I am happy that for many, my activities over the last 24 months have allowed them to become involved and become active citizens. Who knows, I might just miss some of the comments about the sea gulls making a noise, the trees dropping leaves on the road or the sand blowing off the beaches onto the pavements.”
Mr Weber said he thought it was important for young people to get involved in politics.
“We have the power to create the country that we want to live in. The one tip that I can offer around politics is stay true to your own morals and ethics and never let the greater political animal make you doubt yourself or your actions.”
He said he made the decision to withdraw from the political world as he had fulfilled the personal goals that he set.
His next venture has not yet been confirmed so Mr Weber did not reveal what he will be doing.
“Cape Town will always be my home regardless of where I end up in the future, but be assured that I will always remain connected to the Atlantic Seaboard in some way or another.”