From activist to councillor for ward 115

Newly elected councillor, Ian McMahon, is the ward councillor for Ward 115. PHOTO: Supplied
Newly elected councillor, Ian McMahon, is the ward councillor for Ward 115. PHOTO: Supplied

For many years, Ian McMahon was a community activist who believed in keeping his local ward councillor accountable.

He believed that the needs of residents should always come first.

Now, several years later, he will need to practice what he preached. McMahon is the newly elected ward councillor of ward 115. A task, he says, he’s ready to face head on.

In November, McMahon was announced the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) candidate for the ward 115 by-election. He secured 82.3% of the votes during the by-election held on Thursday 9 December. The ANC received 1.77% of the votes while the EFF got 2.33%.

A total of 1 972 votes were cast of which 1 623 were in favour of the DA.

Several by-elections were held across the City on Wednesday 11 November and Wednesday 9 December.

The 52-year-old McMahon is no stranger to community service. In 2001, he was the chair of the Cape Town Pride Festival. He is also a founder and former chair of the Pride Shelter Trust, the only LGBTQIA+ crisis centre in Africa.

McMahon also served as chair of the De Waterkant Civic Association from 2014 to 2020 and is chair of the ward 115 DA Cape hub branch since 2019.

“I have always been a community activist and now my role will be slightly different as I am the one who will be held accountable,” says the newly elected councillor.

Ward 115 includes area such as Cape Town City Centre – Foreshore – Gardens; Salt River (north of Albert Road and Lower Main Road), Three Anchor Bay, Woodstock (north of Nelson Mandela Boulevard, Mountain Road and Victoria Road) and Zonnebloem.

McMahon says one of the first tasks he would like to tackle is understanding why there are so many homeless people in his ward.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to stand as the councillor for Ward 115. As a member of this community, I look forward to working with residents and businesses to finding solutions to the challenges we are facing. I am committed to driving the CBD Economic Recovery Plan, maintaining and improving service delivery, prioritising homelessness and helping keep our streets clean and safe.”

McMahon says he has an open-door policy. “I used to be the one bugging the ward councillor in my area, so I know what it is like if you want pressing issues adhered to. But if we work together, we can achieve good results. Let’s deal with one illegal dumping site or one broken streetlight at a time.”

McMahon was sworn in on Thursday 10 December during a small inauguration ceremony, presided over by City speaker Dirk Smit.

Karina Mare, newly elected councillor for Ward 14, was also sworn in.

Smit congratulated the councillors and wished them well in their new roles. He says councillors, as leaders in their communities, must set the example and remain vigilant in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I would also like to use this opportunity to remind councillors to act in the best interests of the municipality and its residents at all times; and to always endeavour to go above and beyond the call of duty in service to the City and its people, regardless of their political affiliation.”

Dave Bryant, former ward 115 councillor, says he believes the ward is in good hands.

“Having known and worked closely with Ian in both his capacity as chairperson of the De Waterkant Civic Association and as chair of the DA ward 115 committee, I have full confidence in his ability to take over as ward councillor. Ian fully understands the challenges that come with civic responsibility and is in touch with the issues on the ground.”

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