I don’t know how you feel about our politicians, particularly the ones that represent your own local electorate, but watching Liberal MLA for Kurrajong Steve Doszpot at work in and around the suburbs in which I live had made me, well, rather fond of him, actually, long before I took the position as editor of the RiotACT.
At 68, Mr Doszpot is the quintessential grass roots local member, turning up to community events to meet his constituents whatever the weather, and spending time talking to them, finding out what matters to them, then lobbying and debating on their behalf on issues such as the pushes to shrink Telopea Park School’s footprint and to move historic childcare centre MOCCA from its current site at Manuka and concerns about inadequate services in Oaks Estate.
I expect Mr Doszpot’s experience as a sporting administrator prepared him well for this work. No doubt it is made easier because unlike fellow MLAs for Kurrajong Andrew Barr (ALP) and Shane Rattenbury (Greens), he is not busy leading a party or holding down multiple ministries. That said, Mr Rattenbury is often at the same community events as Mr Doszpot and is an engaged listener on local issues, and Mr Barr set aside time to talk to constituents at Westside over several weekends in the lead-up to the election. The other two MLAs in Kurrajong, Rachel Stephen-Smith (ALP) and Elizabeth Lee (Libs), have only been around a few months but have already demonstrated that they share Mr Doszpot’s passion for community. We’re lucky that our politicians are generally an approachable and consultative bunch.
Since returning to journalism and working with Mr Doszpot in a professional capacity, I have found him always willing to assist, and a positive and enthusiastic participant in public life. From the outside, he seems the ideal team member for a political party: hard-working and committed, and more interested in representing us all than in the power-plays that can distract our politicians from the main game from time to time.
So it was with much sadness that I read this morning of his cancer diagnosis late last year. While he has not made public details of the type of cancer, we know that it has led to significant weight loss over the past few months and that Mr Doszpot is undergoing a course of oral chemotherapy (while continuing to work, as you’d expect from the stalwart MLA). We can imagine that it has made the holiday period a difficult one for the MLA, his wife Maureen, and their children and grandchildren.
Thinking of how well he looked on his birthday last year, when I took this photograph after a Clubs ACT rally at the Raiders Club in Holt, it’s hard to believe that this man, who campaigned energetically all over town in September and October 2016, was diagnosed with cancer only weeks later.
We’re all thinking of you, Steve, and we hope the chemo rids you of the cancer swiftly so that you can continue to focus your energies on doing what you do best as well as enjoying life with your friends and family.