When a local councillor called it a day after 25 years of service to the Santa Venera community, her husband decided to take up where she had left off.

Joe Vella successfully threw his name in the hat for the May elections after his wife Elizabeth – one of the first female faces within local councils – decided not to contest for health reasons.

He hopes to live up to her standards, with perseverance – a characteristic that he admires in her – being the most challenging to achieve.

The two had met in 1973 as members of the Moviment Żgħażagħ Partit Nazzjonalista, but their work within the locality stretches far beyond partisan politics.

Herself from Fleur-De-Lys and her husband from Ħamrun, they found middle ground in Santa Venera, and have been living there since 1979 when they got married.

The locality, home to some 8,000 residents, last year celebrated 100 years as a parish, but the largest changes, which have seen a shift from a rural to an urban environment took place from the 1970s onwards, according to the Vellas.

Elizabeth, now 63, just like Joe, has been part of the Santa Venera local council since its inception in 1994. During these 25 years within the council, she spent some years as a mayor and also a PN minority leader.

Elizabeth spent some years as a mayor and also a PN minority leader

The local council was like a second family for her.

“I felt I should continue her work especially because of the relationship she built with the residents.

“Over the years I gained some experience when it comes to community work and made acquaintances with residents through my voluntary work within different local groups,” Mr Vella said.

During her tenure as a local councillor, Mrs Vella also juggled a full-time job and voluntary work.

Her children, Johann and Roslynn, who were aged 12 and 13 when she was first elected councillor, recall that she was always respected on her own merit, rather than as a member of a political party.

Both were inspired by her strong commitment to the community, and while Johann forms part of a party committee and other local organisations, Roslynn, who was never interested in partisan politics, has grown fond of social justice.

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