Meet one of Britain's youngest mayors
PUBLISHED: 13:29 03 October 2017
Mayor of Ware, Alexander Curtis, one of the youngest mayors in British history
How did you get involved in politics?
When I was 15, I got involved with the Conservative Party. Having previously being the founding chairman of Ware Youth Town Council, I was passionate about increasing the range of opportunities for young people locally. This brought me into contact with local Conservative councillors, and subsequently the party.
I’ve always taken an interest in the world around me – doing what I can to correct the problems I see. This instinct led me to put my name forward for the Conservative nomination, just before my 18th birthday, for the 2015 Ware Town Council elections. After winning, I went on to be elected as one of the three town councillors for Christchurch ward, receiving 1,291 votes – the second highest for all the candidates standing for the 11 seats on the council.
The next year the council nominated me to serve as deputy mayor, a post that I occupied until May this year, when the council nominated me to serve as Mayor of Ware, following the decision of the incumbent to stand down.
How do people react to such a youthful mayor?
People are often very surprised at my age when they meet me. Most mayors are relatively old, typically being aged 50-plus. So far, I haven’t found my age to be a hindrance when performing the role, though it was definitely much more difficult to convince my council colleagues to nominate me at 20 than it would have been if I was even 10 years older.
The office is a prestigious one, and it is important that its holder is an effective ambassador and representative for the town. As one of only a handful of people in British history to serve as mayor before the age of 21, I feel that people often take me more seriously than I had expected they would, for they feel that there must be a good reason why I was nominated at my age.
What makes a good mayor?
The most important attribute for a good mayor is passion for their town. As mayor you have to attend a lot of events and support a lot of causes for your local community. The more passionate you are about your town, the more effort you are going to put into these tasks and the more success you are likely to achieve for your area through your labour. Mayors often come across as quite removed from their community. The demographics of all towns are typically rather diverse, and it is important that a mayor is able to reach out to people from all ages and backgrounds, being a representative for everyone. Because of this, I believe that a good mayor is someone who integrates themselves into their town, getting to know as many local individuals and groups as possible while in office.
I have found that being ‘down to earth’ is often a very good way of building meaningful connections with Ware residents, ensuring that the office of mayor is relevant to local people and their everyday lives.
What do you hope to achieve in your year of office?
I intend to provide a platform for those who are often not sufficiently engaged by local government. I want such people to know they can work with the town council to make their town a better place to live. Civic pride is something that we must promote in our towns, especially historic ones with a proud heritage like Ware.
Additionally, I seek to attract investment to Ware, especially for initiatives that will make the town centre an even more exciting place to be. Ware has a tradition of being a coaching town, and its role in entertaining people through events and leisure provision must be enhanced.
What do you do when not wearing the mayoral chain?
I’m a student at St Catherine’s College at the University of Oxford, reading for a BA in Geography. This summer I’ve had the privilege of also working as a strategy consulting intern at Monitor Deloitte, operating out of London.
In my spare time, I maintain a number of interests, though I particularly enjoy any pursuits in the wonderful countryside of East Hertfordshire. Reading and writing are also hobbies of mine, as are socialising with friends and dabbling in various sports, especially sailing.
In addition to my council and mayoral roles I serve as a trustee of multiple charities, I’m chairman of the Hertford and Stortford Conservative Association, and deputy chairman of the Oxford East Conservative Association.