A few days shy of her first month in office, Washiela Harris, the newly-elected councillor for ward 82, has already gotten her hands dirty and she is looking forward to the new year.Harris was elected as councillor in the recent by-election in ward 82 which covers the broader Tafelsig area. The election took place on Wednesday 13 November with Harris – who represents the Democratic Alliance (DA) – winning the ward with more than 60% of the valid votes cast. The position became available after the death of councillor Sheval Arendse in August.“When my colleague got sick, I was asked to assist in the ward and when Arendse passed away, I made myself available for election,” says Harris. Harris began as a community worker in the Colorado Park and London Village area. “I was an activist in my community for many years and was the chair of Colville Residents’ Association for two terms, serving the communities of Colorado Park and London Village. I was also the first elected victim support coordinator for Lentegeur police station when it opened in 2013 and, this year, I stepped down as the Mitchell’s Plain Lions Club president,” says Harris.She has also worked as a scribe for the Eros School for the past four years. “This is how passionate I am about serving our communities,” says Harris.She has been a proportional representative (PR) councillor in ward 99 for the past three years. Ward 99 covers the remainder of Tafelsig – Hyde Park, Mitchell’s Heights and Freedom Park – and parts of Khayelitsha. Following her election, Harris is ready to tackle some of the challenges in the community.“Gangsterism in the area is a huge problem and affects service delivery. Officials can’t come in to deliver the much-needed services because of the shootings sometimes,” says Harris.She serves on the safety and security and leadership and development portfolio committees. “I know it may not be possible but many times people say they do not know or have not seen their councillor, even if they have been in office for two terms, and I want to change that. I want to meet every resident and know every street I am going to serve. It will probably take me two to three years, but that is the challenge I want to set for myself. I want residents to know who I am and that I am here to serve them to the best of my ability,” says Harris.She looks forward to working with residents but says it will take time to see improvements.“Residents ask and think it will happen immediately. There are processes that must be followed, but residents want it to happen overnight. If it is reported to me, I must then report it to the line departments who take it further,” says Harris.Her office will be in Tafelsig and there are plans to appoint an assistant to man the office. “I have an open-door policy and I believe that what is right will always be right and what is wrong can be made right. I am here to work with everyone, irrespective of their political stance. I want to serve to the best of my ability because I have pledged allegiance to serve the residents of ward 82,” she says.“To the residents of ward 82, I would like to wish you all a blessed festive season. Be safe so that when we come back next year, you are all healthy, safe and alive.”Harris is based at the New Tafelsig community centre from 8:00 to 14:00, Monday’s to Friday’s. Call the office on 021 391 1436.