Kingston resident Siobhan Benita has been successful in her bid to become the Liberal Democrats mayoral candidate for 2020.
Benita has lived in Kingston-upon-Thames for most of her life. She grew up in Motspur Park and now lives in New Malden.
Benita told the Kingston Courier: “I really like Kingston. It’s a hidden gem in that you are really close to Surrey and Richmond Park and the River Thames. You can get all that green space when you want it.
“But equally, in 20 minutes, you’re in Waterloo. I really like that mix.”
Over the course of Benita’s campaign, she received great support from fellow Kingston Lib Dems, such as Sir Ed Davey MP.
Benita criticised previous London Mayors for focusing on central London, and neglecting boroughs such as Kingston.
If successful in her mayoral bid, Benita said she will ask every borough to identify their top five priorities and how they would like the mayor to help them with these.
She said: “Each borough is different and they have different issues, be it litter, traffic, a bus service which is under threat.
“They have their own things but they can certainly work with the councils in terms of how to address them.”
Benita joined the Lib Dems in June 2016, the morning after the UK voted to leave the European Union.
In 2012, Benita ran as an independent candidate, but said she is proud to be running as a Lib Dem this time.
She said: “The Tories and Labour have become kind of puppets of the right and the left arms of their parties and so there is a huge opportunity for the Liberal Democrats to own that more centrist, effective and honest space in the middle.
“I’m so confident that we need more people standing up to say this populist rubbish that we’re hearing day in and day out is not right.
“We need a stronger, louder voice, saying that we want to keep being a liberal, forward facing, outward facing country.”
Benita is confident that the 2020 election will give the Liberal Democrats a chance to breakthrough Labour and the Conservatives’ hold over the London mayor position.
She said: “There are millions of people waiting for something to come along and they’ve toyed with the idea of voting for the Liberal Democrats but they’ve never seen the right campaign, with the right person heading it.
“I think we have a real opportunity in 2020 to change that.”
Benita said that her parents are her greatest role models and are at the heart of everything she does.
She said: “I could never put anything out there publicly which I didn’t think my parents would approve of and I think it’s because they’re such genuinely nice people.
“They are absolutely in the back of my mind in everything that I do.”
Benita will continue to work closely with the Kingston Lib Dems in the run-up to her 2020 bid.