Karen McKevitt: SDLP, South Down
Like many MLAs Ms McKevitt has a grounding in local government. After topping the poll in her first election, she was elected to Newry and Mourne council in 2005 and had a high profile as deputy Mayor.
Why did you want to become an MLA?
I saw the difficulties facing people in my community, particularly so many out of work, and I decided that in order to drive economic change and make a substantial difference to their lives I needed to be part of the Assembly. You have to be inside looking out rather than outside looking in.
Apart from family and work, what are your main passions in life?
I get great pleasure from walking around Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor and other beautiful spots around the Mournes. I'm also keen on caravanning and love getting away with my family to different locations both locally and in other parts of Ireland. I've formed some great friendships with the people I've met while on caravan holidays.
What issues do you intend to raise as an MLA?
I want the Assembly to do more for families, particularly those struggling in the economic climate. I made my maiden speech on nursery school provision as did two other female MLAs. A child's early years are so important and the Executive must invest in providing all children with adequate care.
Is there anything about the Assembly system that needs changed urgently?
While politics is not an ideal career for people raising a family, more must be done to attract women into the political arena. The Assembly should be friendlier toward the needs of families, especially working mothers. Steps must also be taken to improve government's delivery of services making it more appealing to apathetic voters.