Newly selected Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for St Albans, James Spencer, spoke with the Herts Advertiser this week about his upbringing in the area, local government experience, and vision for the constituency. Full text of the original article has been replicated below.
James Spencer - of Jersey Farm - will be running in the next general election, due at any time before January 2025.
The Herts Ad caught up with the new candidate, discussing his background and what he could bring to the role if elected.
The former cabinet manager for city management in Westminster has lived with his family in St Albans for 30 years, and was keen to stress his local links.
"I've grown up pretty much my whole life in St Albans" Mr Spencer said.
"(I was) born in Colney Heath and then, at the age of three, my family moved to Jersey Farm which is just over the border - constituency wise - with Harpenden.
"I went to Wheatfields Infants' School, then Sandringham Secondary School.
"In fact, my first political office at the age of 18 was on Sandridge Parish Council.
"So, St Albans is my home and it's the honour of a lifetime really, as a candidate, to have the opportunity to represent your home city.
"I feel very privileged about that."
Asked what he would change if he were elected, James Spencer continued: "One of the things that I really want to do, as an MP, would be to hold the (St Albans) City & District Council to account and be that level of scrutiny that they don't have at the moment.
"With the council and the MP being of the same colour (party), at the moment they're marking their own homework.
"There is so much that needs to be done to hold a mirror up to what they are doing."
He also discussed what he could bring from his previous role in Westminster to St Albans.
Mr Spencer said: "I said at the selection meeting, when I was chosen as a candidate, that it was the values that I learnt at Sandridge Parish Council that led me all the way to the capital.
"In that role I was responsible for everything from waste and recycling to highways, to green spaces, to leisure centres, that all fell under my portfolio.
"I was responsible for hundreds of millions of pounds worth of annual spending.
"In that role, I managed a waste and recycling collection service for residents.
"We had three waste collections a week, all for the lowest council tax in the country.
"They had some of the most high quality parks, open spaces and leisure centres, again with the lowest council tax.
"It is a bugbear of my parents that the council tax keeps going up and up and up.
"Things like green bins now that they have to pay for, grass verges aren't being mowed regularly.
"The disparity between a service like Westminster and a service like St Albans city - there's no comparison really."
Asked how he hopes to overcome the Liberal Democrats' hold on St Albans, Mr Spencer explained: "I'm determined to run a very local campaign.
"As I said, St Albans is my home, I know the issues.
"I can connect with the issues because it is my home.
"One of the things that I will be doing, really, is conserving our green spaces and conserving our heritage.
"One of my real concerns is the Local Plan that the council are trying to push through, and the building on our Green Belt.
"Having grown up in St Albans, I know how beautiful it is to live in a city which is so close to beautiful rural areas.
"As a Conservative, I will be standing up to conserve our green spaces.
"I think that is an area of clear blue water between me and the Liberal Democrats."
Lastly, when asked about the rail freight terminal at Radlett Aerodrome, James Spencer replied: "I think it's the wrong decision, I can completely see where Park Street residents are coming from.
"Again, it's something that as an MP I would be compaigning strongly against."