Campaigning is in her DNA, according to London Assembly member Jennette Arnold, who’s announced that after nearly 20 years she won’t be standing for re-election.
When asked if this means she’ll be taking a step back from helping the community, the Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest representative and former nurse told East London Lines: “No way! Campaigning on public and political issues is in my DNA.”
Before being elected to City Hall, Arnold was a councillor in Islington for eight years, including a term as deputy mayor. In 2010, she was awarded OBE for her services to politics and to the London community. When asked which of her achievements she was most proud of she didn’t hesitate. “My support for the London 2012 Olympic Games was my proudest achievement. The process brought about so much change.
“We came up with the idea to help create a cultural legacy in Hackney. We wanted to engage the community so local people felt a sense that it was their location.”
Arnold was given exclusive access to the tournament. She said: “I received a Gold Pass so I could go to every event.” But that wasn’t her only reward for services to local politics. “I was at Wimbledon with Michelle Obama to support the Williams’ sisters. [These] are the things you don’t forget.”
In 2006, Arnold chaired the London Health Commission and campaigned for a smoke-free London. The government has since made it illegal to smoke in enclosed spaces.
London was the first city to propose the decision. “The rest of the country did nothing, and we did our very best to help improve London’s health. As it gathered momentum, more cities got involved.”
Before entering politics, Arnold trained to work in healthcare. She reflected on the smoking ban with happiness that she could help people in a positive way, saying: “Being a nurse, it felt like the completing of a circle.”