When asked if she would characterise herself as a progressive or a conservative, independent candidate for the upper house seat of Rosevears Janie Finlay says she's a "middle-of-the-road individual".
So, a centrist?
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"The way I would describe myself is solid and fair with what's in front of me at the time," the former City of Launceston mayor says.
With her place on the political spectrum being somewhat opaque, just who is Janie Finlay?
In 1993, Finlay, born and raised in Launceston, moved to Hobart to study furniture design at the University of Tasmania's School of Creative Arts.
After graduating in 1995, she moved to Sydney, where she established a successful furniture studio in Glebe.
"I'm very practical - hands-on," Finlay says.
"I exhibited and sold works and did some small resale fit-outs in Sydney and sold some works to the states."
But Finlay's passion for design would soon falter. It all began when she received devastating news just a year after moving interstate.
Finlay's mother was diagnosed with aggressive melanoma in late 1996. Just 23 at the time, the young designer returned home to Tasmania and spent a year caring for her dying mum.
It was an experience that would thoroughly shape the rest of her life.
"I'm an only child," Finlay says. "And my parents had separated quite some time before. So it fell on me to care for her."
With voluntary assisted dying legislation expected to be tabled in the Legislative Council about a month after the new member for Rosevears is elected, Finlay says the time she spent with her mother in her final days has informed her opinion on the issue.
"Mum's last weeks were at Philip Oakden House at the manor in the palliative care support centre there," she says. "And that was an experience that was obviously profound for me. But wonderful in terms of the support that was provided in that facility."
"I was heavily impacted by my mum passing away. So I spent just under a year pretty much just being cared for myself and taking some time out."
Finlay resolved to stay in Tasmania, leaving behind her business in Sydney. One day, she was scanning the job listings in The Examiner, when one in particular caught her eye.
"There was a job advertised ... literally three lines long: 'If you're good with young people and you understand business, give us a call'," she says.
The job was with the not-for-profit Beacon Foundation, an organisation seeking to improve opportunities for young people. Finlay got the gig, which was based at Launceston College.
She went on to do some work out at the Ashley Youth Detention Centre, and even devised a program aiming to teach detainees how to reintegrate into society upon their release. But she needed the City of Launceston council's support.
"I secured a time to present to the [council]," Finlay says. "Unfortunately the response wasn't fantastic."
"I was sort of told, 'Come back and talk to us about something that's important'. That was a bit like a red rag to a bull.
"A couple of months later there was an election, so I thought, 'Yeah, I'll come back but I'm going to sit at the table with you'."
The fresh-faced mayor
And so it was that in the year 2000, Finlay was elected to the local council. She was just 25.
"I felt that I'd sort of lost my immediate passion for design," Finlay says. "And I had been able to discover through my work at Launceston College and Ashley that I had a gift for working in community. "
Despite her youth, it wasn't long before the ambitious Finlay set her sights on the mayorship.
"I was always raised to believe in myself and back myself," she says. "I'd always played sports so I'd always been a member of a team. And I'd always been in leadership roles."
"It was, 'I love what I'm doing, I want to do as best I can, as much as I can for the greater community, so it makes sense for me to put up my hand to be mayor'."
At the time, Finlay, at 27 years old, was the youngest female mayor to ever serve in Australia.
"I learnt patience," she says of her time as mayor. "I learnt to listen."
After three years in the role, she narrowly lost out to former senior police officer - and now MLC - Ivan Dean in the 2005 election. Two years later, Finlay would resign from the council, only to be elected once more in 2014. She continues to serve on the council.
I was always raised to believe in myself and back myself.Janie Finlay, independent Rosevears candidate
Despite her gradually waning interest in design, Finlay says the skills that were so vital to her in her previous line of work continue to be useful and applicable in different situations.
"For me, design, which is my skill, is what's the input, what's the output and the problems that need to be solved in the middle?" she says. "And so sometimes people ask me, 'Do you miss design?'
"And, in fact, what I do is design."
Independence or bust
Finlay is one of three independent candidates standing for Rosevears. She says it's important the Legislative Council retains its independent spirit.
"The purpose of the upper house is to keep the government to account in a positive way," she says. "Its purpose is designed to be independent."
"There are only 15 seats and so you need 15 active independent minds, positively scrutinising the legislation to see that it is in the best interest of your electorate and of Tasmania. So it must remain independent."
Finlay appears reluctant to discuss any ideological leanings she may have, preferring instead to expand on the philosophy she would adopt when examining legislation.
"What I do is take everything case-by-case: what's in front of me, what are the details, what's the evidence, what's the purpose, what's the intention and does what we're being presented match that?" she says.
"By having an open mind, I'm not easily pushed around, I'm not easily told what to do, I'm definitely not a rubber stamp and I'm not a blatant opposition. But I'm willing to be fair and to check that the legislation that comes before the upper house is fair and reasonable and in the best interest of Tasmanians."
"That's where I sit."
- This article is part of a series profiling all the Rosevears candidates in the lead up to the August 1 election.