Lois Maxine Harris Daniels (b. May 16, 1954) is the incumbent President of Georgeland, having been elected to that office on May 2, 2008. Daniels is a member and leader of the centrist Georgeland Alliance. Daniels is the first person to be elected as President since 1953.
From July 2004 to February 2008 she served as Mayor of Santa Christina. Daniels was elected Mayor in 2004 defeating incumbent Jonathan Yates. Daniels was the only Mayor in the country to come from a minor political party and the first third-party mayor in the country's history. Daniels is the first President in the country's history to belong to a political party. She is the third woman to have held the office and the first former mayor.
|Position||15th President of Georgeland|
|Term in office||June 1, 2008 -|
|Preceded by||Charlotte Lang|
|Total time in office||Incumbent|
|Born||May 16, 1954|
|Spouse||John Harris (married 1975)|
Early life and career
Born in Topstad in 1954, Daniels is the eldest of three sisters born to Matthew and Elizabeth Daniels. Matthew Daniels was a civil servant who later (1980-1984) served as head of the Department of Education. In 1965, the family moved to Santa Christina when Daniels' father began working for a federal agency there. Daniels initially attended Point Freeman Girls High School from 1965 until 1967, but after 1967 attended St. Margaret's Girls Grammar in Point Freeman and later St. Martha's High School.
In 1972, Daniels was accepted to the University of Santa Christina. Daniels thus became one of the first people to benefit from the Labour government's free universities scheme. She studied law at the university, earning a Masters degree in the subject in 1977. While at university she met fellow student John Harris. The two married while Daniels was still studying - she was twenty-one, he was twenty-seven. Daniels opted to retain her surname after marriage, considered extremely unusual at the time. Since 1987 she has used her husband's surname as part of her full name.
Daniels practiced as a solicitor in Santa Christina from 1978 until 1994, working for several legal firms. Her specialisation in the legal field was family law but she later developed a keen interest in property work and small claims.
City Council years
In 1990, Daniels was elected to the Borough Council of Cheltenham, where she had lived since 1985. Her campaign had been based around action on the lack of urban services in the borough. In 1994, she stood for election to the Santa Christina City Council as an Independent candidate from the Cheltenham Ward. She recieved a high level of community support and campaigned with the assistance of several prominent community leaders which saw her elected to the Council with 36% of the vote, the most of any candidate.
Daniels served only three years on the Council but proved quite influential. As the only Independent councillor, Daniels' vote was sought on a range of issues. At this time she developed her interests in market-based solutions to community problems as well as her strong support for the embracing of new technologies. Daniels was a popular councillor but in 1997 announced she would stand down from the council after her husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Small Business Owner
After resigning from the Council, Daniels went into business, setting up a consultancy firm with the aim of helping community-based organisations achieve their goals. The firm, Gordon Daniels was run in partnership with her former Council colleague, Norman Gordon, who had lost his seat in 1998. The firm was a great success and was employing fourteen people, mostly from the marketing field, by 2001.
In that year, Harris was given the all-clear by doctors and encouraged his wife to return to local politics. Using her connections in the community and her business she mounted a professional, orchestrated campaign to fill a vacant City Council seat at a 2001 by-election. However, she was defeated after both the Liberal and Conservative parties directed their preferences against her.
Daniels returned to running her consultancy firm after her election loss. By mutual agreement with Gordon, the firm was sold in 2003.
Daniels joined the newly-formed Georgeland Alliance in 2003. She had been a great admirer of the party's founder, Michael Elderton, and admired his moderate approach to public policy. After the sale of her business, Daniels briefly returned to the law before deciding, again with the encouragement of Harris, to stand to be the Alliance's mayoral candidate in 2004. Daniels' business and community connections helped her secure the party's nomination to stand in the 2004 mayoral election.
Daniels faced the Tory and Labour candidates at the mayoral election and was initially given little chance of success. The incumbent Liberal mayor, Jonathan Yates, was unpopular and widely expected to lose the election, and the Tory mayoral candidate, Bob Burrows, led the polls. However, as the election day grew nearer, it became apparent that Daniels' position as a social and economic moderate, combined with her natural charisma (a quality Yates lacked) was attracting voters away from both Yates and Burrows. At the election held on June 1, Daniels won narrowly with 33% of the vote, compared to Burrows with 32% and Yates with 31%. Daniels immediately declared the major parties' grip on power at an end.
Daniels was sworn into office as Mayor on July 1, 2004 and thus became the first ever Mayor of a major city in Georgeland who was not a member of either of the major political parties. Her victory brought significant publicity and fundraising to the Alliance, who gradually began to gain support in other areas of the country.
Daniels initially faced a hostile council, controlled by the Liberals and the Greens. However, Daniels' policy of engagement with all political parties and consensus-based approach to government saw her reach an accomodation with the Council, and a "power-sharing" agreement was reached under which Daniels would not oppose many Council initiatives in exchange for initiatives of her own being passed by Council.
Some of Daniels' initiatives as Mayor included the establishment of free wireless broadband coverage in the city's CBD, and the revitalisation of the city's public transport system. Daniels was particularly concerned with traffic problems and with increasing the city's tourism. In the former instance she met resistance, especially from commuters, and her efforts met with limited success. However, she was highly regarded as a successful 'ambassador' for the city and keenly promoted events designed to increase vistor numbers. The city's spending on the Arts, of which Daniels was a keen patron, almost doubled during her Mayoral term.
As one of the most vocal and visible Alliance politicians, Daniels is the subject of much speculation regarding her career. Some suggested she might attempt a run for the House of Commons or the Senate at the next election, though Daniels consistently denied any interest in leaving local politics. There was also speculation Daniels could be drafted to lead the Alliance in the West Mainland state legislature; again, Daniels has denied any interest.
Mayor Daniels was considered by many to be the front-runner for the Alliance's presidential nomination for the 2008 election even before she announced her candidacy.
In March 2007, Daniels refused to commit to the 2008 mayoral election, instead saying she would 'consider her options'. This led many to speculate she will attempt a presidential run.
On October 2, 2007, the Santa Christina Herald published an exclusive story in which a Daniels adviser was quoted as saying that Daniels does intend to run for President and that she will announce her candidacy "before Christmas". The Mayor's office did not publicly comment on the story.
On November 8, 2007, Mayor Daniels declared her candidacy on the steps of Santa Christina Town Hall to a cheering crowd. Daniels declared she was the only candidate capable of working effectively with the major parties. As Daniels typically enjoys approval ratings between 50 and 80 percent in Santa Christina, many commentators have suggested she is a serious contender for the Presidency and declared the election a "three-horse-race".
Daniels was not challenged for the party's Presidential nomination and was officially endorsed in December 2007 as the Alliance's candidate. Daniels' campaign quickly gained momentum throughout the country, thought she was particularly strong in rural areas. Throughout the campaign, Daniels consistently polled at around 18-20% of the national vote, with support drawn from both the Tory and Liberal Democrat voter bases. Commentators consistently declared Daniels as a viable candidate, with Barry Tighe declaring in January 2008 that Daniels had a 50% chance of winning the election, based mostly on preferences to her from both major party candidates.
On February 2, 2008, Daniels resigned as Mayor to concentrate on the campaign. She announced at a rally that "we're not here to make waves. We're here to win!" A short time later, Daniels secured the crucial backing of influential newspaper the Globe and Standard, which had traditionally supported the Conservatives. In presidential debates, Daniels was noted for her calm performance and logical argument, as well as being seen as warm and engaging.
On May 2, Daniels was elected as Georgeland's 15th President. Her performance in the first round of voting proved even better than expected - she polled almost 25% of first preferences and finished first. Her total increased based on preferences from minor parties. The preferences of the Conservative candidate, Leyton Douglas flowed largely to Daniels over Campbell Rhodes, her closest rival, and thus secured her victory. Daniels won approximately 52% of the two-candidate vote. In a gracious victory speech on May 3, on the steps of Santa Christina City Hall, Daniels thanked her opponents for a well-fought campaign and declared she would represent the interests of all Georgelanders as President.
Daniels was sworn into office at noon on June 1, 2008. In her inaugural speech, Daniels pledged to work with all political parties and announced her support for electoral reforms and stronger international ties.
On October 10, 2008, Daniels made a public speech in which she expressed her support for a system of proportional representation for the federal House of Commons. The remarks attracted some criticism and a public rebuke from the government and opposition, neither of whom support proportional voting. Daniels later clarified her remarks by stating that while she supported such a system and would sign legislation if adopted, she had no intention of pressing for it and supported the right of the government and people to make that determination.
Daniels and her husband John Harris have five children. Their two youngest, Peter and Ursula, aged 18 and 16 respectively, reside with the family in Martin Hall. Their other three children, Matthew (b.1982), Pauline (b.1985) and Elizabeth (b. 1987), all live away from their parents. Pauline and Elizabeth Harris-Daniels both study at the University of Mainland.
|Mayor of Santa Christina|
July 1, 2004 - February 2, 2008
|President of Georgeland|
June 1, 2008 -