Nomi Kaltmann announced as the first ‘teal’ candidate selected to run in Victorian election

·3 min read

Nomi Kaltmann has been chosen to run as the independent local candidate for the seat of Caulfield, in Melbourne’s south-east, at Victoria’s state election.

The 30-year-old lawyer, journalist and mother-of-three has been chosen by the newly formed Voices of Caulfield group and will run at the next election against the deputy Liberal leader, David Southwick, who holds the seat on a razor-thin 0.1% margin.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly terrified, but I really believe this is the moment and the time and people have an appetite for an independent candidate in a seat like Caulfield,” Kaltmann told Guardian Australia.

Related: What will the teal wave mean for Victorian and NSW state elections?

A lifelong resident of Caulfield and active member of the local Jewish community, Kaltmann established the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance of Australia last year, which works to expand the opportunities for Orthodox women in all areas of life, including in politics.

She is also the Australian correspondent at Tablet magazine, the largest Jewish newspaper in the US.

Kaltmann said she was inspired to enter the political fray following the success of teal candidates at the 2022 federal election and will campaign on similar issues, including integrity, gender equity and climate change.

“Both major parties seem to lack integrity, there is a lack of representation of women in public spaces and public-facing leadership positions and we’re not doing nearly enough about climate change,” she said.

“Since 2018, we have endured bushfires, floods and horrible heat.”

Kaltmann has also worked for the former state Labor MP Marsha Thomson and as an electorate officer for the federal attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, but has renounced her party membership.

“Party politics wastes a lot of time. It’s often highly ineffective and bogged down, on lots of details and political factions. I think the best choice was to become an independent,” she said.

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Alex Fein, the president of Voices of Caulfield, said the group sought to promote women to positions of leadership.

“Caulfield deserves the best independent candidate to represent it in the parliament and we think Nomi is a brilliant candidate who has the drive, passion and community backing to succeed,” Fein said.

Related: ‘Teal’ independents coming for state MPs next in Victoria and NSW

“We had a few candidates come forward, seeking to become the independent candidate, but Nomi was the clear winner.”

Caulfield was first created in 1927. In that time it has never been won by Labor. It has since been held by conservative candidates, with the exception of one election when the seat was won by an independent socialist in 1943.

Electoral boundary changes announced last year notionally gives Labor a 0.2% margin if the 2018 vote is repeated.

Labor plans to run a strong campaign there and has preselected the corporate lawyer Lior Harel, who has worked at Arnold Bloch Leibler and as chief counsel at Seek. He is also an active member of the local Jewish community.

Kaltmann is the first of a suite of teal candidates expected to be announced ahead of the election in both Labor and Liberal-held seats.