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The appointment of the second-term Dunedin city councillor and former Otago Peninsula Community Board chairwoman was announced yesterday afternoon, along with other key positions in the new council.
Cr Garey said she thought working with new Mayor Aaron Hawkins would be "fantastic".
"I feel very comfortable about working with Mayor Hawkins and ... I believe it's the start of a positive era. That's not to say it wasn't a positive era before, but it's a different one."
The finance and council-controlled organisations committee will be led by Mike Lord with deputy Doug Hall; community and culture will be led by Marie Laufiso with deputies Ms Garey and first-time councillor Carmen Houlahan; infrastructure services Jim O'Malley with deputy and new councillor Jules Radich; planning and environment David Benson-Pope with first-time councillors Sophie Barker and Steve Walker as deputies; economic development by Chris Staynes
with deputies Andrew Whiley
and Rachel Elder.
Cr Whiley has been made head of the bylaws subcommittee and Cr Garey will lead the grants subcommittee.
A notable omission from the heads of committee was mayoral runner-up Lee Vandervis, who was offered the role of deputy chairman of infrastructure but turned it down.
Cr Vandervis, who Mr Hawkins said had accepted roles as chairman of the Dunedin Heritage Fund, and an appointment to the Otago Museum board, described the offer of deputy chairman as "insulting".
"[It is] perhaps useful for new councillors to get some exposure to the role of chair, but not of interest for council's most experienced councillor, who has been there and done that same infrastructure services deputy chairmanship for three years, many years ago when Cr Andrew Noone was chair."
Cr Vandervis also directed the Otago Daily Times to a blog post where he claimed Mr Hawkins had "faltered in his first decisions as mayor".
While Cr Garey joked that having a hamstring injury prevented her from hitchhiking to work, she said she and Mr Hawkins saw eye-to-eye on environmental issues.
"My views are aligned with Aaron's. I have a different take on them because I come from a different age, and I come from a female perspective ... but we have the same views about the outcomes we want for the city."
The city was facing a number of "growing pains", but there were "so many positive things as well".
"As I said on the campaign trail, we've got a housing issue, climate change is the overriding issue that we have to address and we've already started that work. We need to embed it in council operations, that's really important."
Transport issues were another priority area she identified.
She was pleased to be working on a council with a good proportion of women, and feedback she had received from women in the city was that it was positive to have a woman in a leadership position.
Mr Hawkins said he was excited about the diversity of skills and talent the election delivered, and all councillors would have important roles to play under his leadership.
"The election has delivered a diverse range of talent and skills around the council table and my expectation is that all councillors, regardless of their appointments, will have much to contribute over the next three years."