As one of the central figures in Wagga's growing African community, Samuel Avo is hoping his election campaign will pave the way to a more diverse local council.
The school teacher and president of the Wagga African Association (WAFRICA) is one of the five candidates on the Supporting Diversity ticket, led by incumbent councillor Rod Kendall.
Born in the Ivory Coast, the 55-year-old lived in England and Sydney before moving to Wagga to study teaching at Charles Sturt University in 2001.
After finishing his degree, Mr Avo chose to stay in Wagga and for the past two decades he has provided support to African families as they arrive in the city, as well as worked as a teacher at a local high school.
The proud husband and father of two daughters is running for local government in a bid to create a diverse council which more accurately reflects the multiculturalism that is present across Wagga.
"I think it is important that everyone, including every section of our community, is represented at the decision-making table," Mr Avo said.
"With a city the size of Wagga and the diversity that lives within our community, it is not good enough that the handful of people who make decisions on our behalf are almost all old white men."
Mr Avo described the variety of cultures present in Wagga as beautiful and something to be proud of, and called for these minority groups to have more say in the direction the city is headed.
"Diversity is what makes Wagga beautiful and appealing to a lot of people, but a colleague once said to me 'if you are not at the table, you are part of the menu'," he said.
"We can't have that diversity in language, cultural backgrounds, and language unless we also have diverse representation and diverse opinion on local council."
As well as providing a unique point of view to council, Mr Avo is also hoping to inspire the next generation of young multicultural Wagga residents to get involved in local politics and realise they have the chance to help lead the city.
"I always like to see people from my community, especially younger people, see their reflection in me and what I do," he said.
"It is so important for me to set a good example and make sure young people from my community can look at themselves and think 'if he is doing it then I can do it too'."
The local teacher is pushing for the establishment of more dedicated spaces for minority groups to host cultural events.
A self-described "no-nonsense guy", Mr Avo said he is someone who will stick firm to his beliefs and not be bullied into decisions.
"If I am lucky enough to be elected and people are thinking they can push me to the side or bully me, they better think again," he said.
"To me, when something stinks you've got to call it and you do the right thing all of the time no matter what."
In the lead up to this year's election, The Daily Advertiser has profiled the candidates looking to secure a spot on Wagga City Council.
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