Politics in Moray: New SNP councillor Juli Harris wants greater say for disabled
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A new councillor is aiming to be a representative for people with disabilities within Moray.
Juli Harris was elected as one of three members for the Speyside Glenlivet in the local election on May 5.
The former head teacher has had multiple sclerosis for 25 years and wants other people with disabilities to become involved in politics and policy making, to improve representation and equality.
She said: "We have to recognise that 25% of the population has a disability in some way.
"I want to be a representative in the council for people with a disability.
"Although I’m not in a wheelchair I do have lived experience.
"If we have more disabled people in the council helping to shape inclusive policy, those policies will protect our communities and provide services that will put the needs of everybody first.
"My experiences as a disabled person will be different from someone who’s not, and that gives me a different set of experiences and values.
"And for democracy we need all voices to be heard."
Some of the symptoms Ms Harris experiences include fatigue and an inability to raise her voice, which becomes weaker the more tired she is.
During the election campaign she received assistance from the charity Inclusion Scotland’s access to politics initiative.
This aims to remove barriers preventing disabled people from fully taking part in politics and promoting greater representation of their skills and experience.
Ms Harris received a voice amplifier to help her during hustings, and had a driver to help her get around the ward during the campaign.
The SNP councillor said: "I’ve got MS and I’m not afraid to say I’ve got MS.
"A lot of people say I don’t look as if I’ve got a disability, but I spend a lot of time fighting it. And not all disabilities are visible.
"I’ve had great support from my colleagues and council officers. It’s all been very positive.
"I retired from teaching five years ago and I’ve taken time to get well.
"I looked at my lifestyle and work-life balance. It’s about living healthily, and I don’t give up."