Mixture of views, and 'huge potential'

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull celebrates his re-election with Greater Dunedin councillors (from left)...
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull celebrates his re-election with Greater Dunedin councillors (from left) Jinty MacTavish, Kate Wilson and Chris Staynes. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Newcomers to the Dunedin City Council table say the people of Dunedin have picked a diverse bunch, but they expect to be able to work together despite philosophical differences.

Seven new faces will join incumbents Crs Chris Staynes, Richard Thomson, John Bezett, Jinty MacTavish, Kate Wilson, Lee Vandervis and Andrew Noone on a new-look council.

David Benson-Pope is pleased to be returning to the table after leaving the city council to become the MP for Dunedin South in 1999.

Having kept a relatively low profile since he resigned from Parliament under a cloud in 2008, he said he was drawn back to public life because he could not stop being interested in public decisions that affected people.

''I've found it a frustrating few years watching what's happened nationally, but also locally, where really good schemes have been dumped and reinvented for purely trivial political reasons.''

He had been doing some resource management work for the council, but he was more interested in ''the policy stuff about the direction the city takes''.

Things like the potential outsourcing of the council's water maintenance work, for example, made him feel uneasy, he said.

There seemed to be wide agreement around what needed doing around employment and marketing the city, so his first drive on council would be to achieve something simple - the physical clean-up of the Octagon and George St, a pledge he found particularly resonated with his voters.

''Let's get the city looking good so we've got something that we can be really proud of and start marketing. It's simple low or no-cost stuff.''

He will be joined on council by the most preferred candidate on first preferences, unsuccessful mayoral challenger Hilary Calvert, a former Act New Zealand MP.

Ms Calvert said she was pleased with the result, and felt her success reflected people's concern about finances and that they did not feel council was listening to them properly.

The balance on the new council was ''extremely pleasing''.

''I think we've got a good mix of sort of interests and different philosophies and things. I think it'll be a very workable council and has huge potential.''

The first thing she wanted to do was ask the business community what was getting in the way of them employing another person or getting on with business.

She was particularly interested in the council's property and how it related to council finances, and wanted to get involved on that front.

A committee needed to be formed to sort out issues surrounding the road realignment around fellow new councillor Doug Hall's properties, a situation that was an example of the poor relationships the council had in that area.

''I think there's a lot of property things that need to be sorted.''

Golf professional Andrew Whiley said he was pleasantly surprised to be elected, after a disappointingly low voter turnout.

After missing out on a seat in 2010 he had not counted his chickens, despite positive feedback.

The first thing he would raise as a councillor was concerns about the potential outsourcing of water maintenance jobs.

''I stood on a policy of maintaining jobs and growing Dunedin, and I'm really concerned about that.''

He was also worried about having a ''left-leaning, green council'', and wanted to ensure all business was welcome in the city.

''I think it's going to be a very interesting council. We do have some common goals, we just have some very different ideas. If you look around the table and see how diverse everybody is, I think there are going to be some pretty good discussions.''

Taieri farmer Mike Lord joins the group as a self-described ''new boy on the block'' representing the Mosgiel-Taieri ward, following a successful first tilt at local body politics.

He came in with no hard and fast agenda, but was interested in making it easier for people to do business in the city and employing a new chief executive who could deliver more of the same work delivered by outgoing CEO Paul Orders, he said.

The latest elected member on the Greater Dunedin ticket, he said he had made it ''very clear'' he would make his own decisions based on evidence, his own opinion and advice he took from the community.

''The reality is that who the public votes in is a reflection of our society, and we are not all coming from the same place.''

Former long-term regional councillor Neville Peat was delighted to win a seat on his first shot at city council.

''I'm looking forward to a new challenge here on city council.''

The seven new faces were a ''real refreshing'' of the council, and that was needed because there was some ''pretty important work to do''.

He hoped councillors would firstly receive the lay of the land from staff, including the impact of debt on spending in the next three years.

His focus would be on introducing the economic development strategy, improving city marketing and promotion and increasing the city's use of renewable energy.

''I think there's enough people on there to carry this stuff through and do it in a transitional way that's not scary.''

Aaron Hawkins is the first Green Party candidate to be elected to the city council.

He ran unsuccessfully in 2010 and said the news of his win was still sinking in yesterday, but it was ''a huge honour'' and he was ''excited about going to work as soon as possible''.

Having strong personalities around the council table was good because it meant robust debate, which was needed to keep local democracy honest and to reach consensus decisions.

Some of the first tasks to tackle would be getting a submission in on the petroleum block offer, sorting out the city's public transport system and choosing a new chief executive.

 

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