Four new councillors eager to get down to work

Elected to the Dunedin City Council for the first time are (from left) Sophie Barker, Carmen...
Elected to the Dunedin City Council for the first time are (from left) Sophie Barker, Carmen Houlahan, Steve Walker and Jules Radich, pictured at the Dunedin Railway Station. Photo: Christine O'Connor
Dunedin's new city councillors say they are looking forward to getting stuck in.

In election results released on Saturday, four new members - Jules Radich, Carmen Houlahan, Sophie Barker and Steve Walker - secured seats at the Dunedin City Council table for the next term.

They will replace departing Mayor Dave Cull and councillors Kate Wilson and Conrad Stedman, who have all stood down, as well as Cr Damian Newell, who was not elected for a second term.

Cr Steve Walker, a Labour Party candidate, told the Otago Daily Times he was "delighted" to be celebrating the result on Saturday and his birthday yesterday.

"I couldn't have wished for a better birthday present, to be honest."

The former West Harbour Community Board member and chairman stood unsuccessfully at the 2016 election, but got over the line this time after being selected as a Labour Party candidate.

Cr Walker said he was "chuffed" to see a good mix of ages and backgrounds at the council table, as well as more women elected, and was looking forward to "serving on behalf of the people who elected me".

Door-knocking on the campaign trail had shown him people wanted a more collaborative council, which would be a priority, he said.

"The feedback we got knocking on the doors is people are sick and tired of councillors shouting at each other, not agreeing, not thinking about the city first. I would like to see the guys and girls working collaboratively."

Jules Radich said he was "very pleased" to be elected, and looking forward to the next three years, working to progress the objectives he had spelled out during the campaign.

That would begin by pushing for the groyne at St Clair Beach to be rebuilt, to build up sand in the area and protect South Dunedin.

Cr Radich also wanted to progress other initiatives, such as a commuter loop bus service, to take the pressure off inner-city parking.

He was yet to hear from Aaron Hawkins, but believed his own ideas "completely dovetail" with those of the city's new mayor-elect.

He was also looking forward to discussing potential roles with Mr Hawkins, which he hoped could tap into his mandate from the business community.

"I think we will have a fruitful three years working together."

Cr Carmen Houlahan was also "really pleased" to be elected and excited to get to work with councillors who represented a "good mix" of the community.

"I'm really excited about working for the city."

She hoped for roles reflecting her interest in the arts and business sectors, but also believed her governance background would stand her in good stead for a chairwoman or deputy position.

Cr Sophie Barker was "very excited" to be elected and, following a previous stint as a council employee, saw "a good chance to make a difference".

The mix of councillors elected would "provoke some very interesting debate" around the council table, but that was a good thing, she said.

"I think things do need to be robustly debated, so it's positive."

Her main priority for now was to focus on the council's economic development and financial strategies, to make sure they were "a bit more robust", and helping manage the impacts of growth in the city.

Her background in economic development meant she was interested in a role in that space, potentially including a deputy or chairwoman's spot, she said.

New councillors 

Steve Walker
Age: 54.
Born: Singapore.
Raised: Hong Kong, then Scotland.
Employment history: Company director, community volunteer.

Carmen Houlahan
Age: 49.
Born: Dunedin.
Raised: Dunedin.
Employment history: Beauty therapist, journalist, marketing manager, communications roles, self-employed.

Jules Radich
Age: 64.
Born: Mataura.
Raised: Mataura, then Invercargill.
Employment history: Science teacher, business owner, business coach.


Sophie Barker
Age: 52.
Born: Dunedin.
Raised: Dunedin
Employment history: Larnach Castle family business, DCC staff role, Otago Peninsula Trust marketing manager.


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