In May, 18 year-old Violet Bonetta was elected as East Devon District Council's youngest councillor, at the same time she was revising for her exams, and preparing to enter the world of work.
Violet has been a member of the Labour Party since she was 14, and after studying Politics at Exeter College, she knew she wanted to stand for election as soon as she was eligible. After completing her college studies, Violet is combining supporting her constituents as a local councillor with an apprenticeship as a paralegal.
Councillor Bonetta, who lives in Honiton and went to Honiton Community College, is also the first openly trans EDDC councillor, and she is keen to champion minority groups.
Councillor Violet Bonetta, Ward Member for Honiton St Michaels, said:
“I believe that we need a diverse range of people in politics from all areas of life, and having people from minority groups in politics allows viewpoints to be heard from multiple angles. I hope that through my position as a councillor I can educate people on what it actually means to be trans, and help to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people living in East Devon.”
“I’ve been interested in politics generally for as long as I can remember, getting involved with general election campaigns and the running of the local Labour party social media. Through this, I learned more about how local politics has a huge impact on people’s lives and the running of local services, and in many ways affects people more than national decisions.
“As far as I am aware at 18, I am the youngest councillor ever at EDDC! It’s an incredible achievement and I hope through my role I can encourage more young people to be interested and get involved in politics, or even just help many to have a greater understanding of it.”
With A Levels in Politics, Geography and Photography now passed, Violet is undertaking a paralegal apprenticeship with DAC Beachcroft - an international law firm specialising in insurance law. While her team is based in Newport, due to hybrid and flexible working, she can combine her two roles, and she would encourage others to do the same.
“It’s still very new to me, although when I started as a councillor I was right in the middle of my exams - a challenge but we made it through to the end! It’s all about setting aside time in my evenings or weekends where I know I can focus on council work - even just half an hour a couple of times a week to keep up with any emails and respond to any queries, but some weeks there is more work than others.
“If you’re interested in politics and having a say in how local services are delivered you should definitely consider standing for election. It can be easily fit around your schedule, and lots of council work can be done from the comfort of your home. It’s also a really good way to get involved with the local community and be involved in incredible local projects.”
Councillor Paul Arnott, leader of the council, added:
"It is wonderful that someone of Violet’s young age and great ability has chosen to be involved in local democracy. These days at East Devon we have an increasing number of younger, more diverse members than in the past, but as is the case across the country even more would be great. We feel so lucky to have Violet in the vanguard."
If you are interested in becoming a councillor you can find out more here: https://www.local.gov.uk/be-councillor