Insults fly in 'Trumpian' community board coup: Members labelled a 'bunch of b******s’

Alexandra Davids. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Alexandra Davids. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Members of Labour-linked political party, The People’s Choice, have been called a “bunch of bastards” by Christchurch talk back radio host Chris Lynch.

It comes after five members from the party on the Linwood-Central-Heathcote Community Board wrote to Christchurch City Council chief executive Dawn Baxendale requesting a meeting be scheduled to consider the removal of Alexandra Davids from the role of chairwoman.

Chris Lynch. Photo: Supplied
Chris Lynch. Photo: Supplied

Jake McLellan, Yani Johanson, Michelle Lomax, Jackie Simons and Sunita Guatam comprise the list of The People’s Choice members who have signed the letter to Baxendale.

It comes less than a month after Guatam was elected to the community board in a by-election held to fill the vacancy left by long-serving board member Sally Buck who died in September.

The People’s Choice now hold a majority with five members, with the remaining four members, including Davids, independents.

The board is expected to vote on the matter on November 30.

Lynch labelled The People’s Choice members on the board a “bunch of bastards” when discussing the matter on his talk show earlier this week.

He told The Star he stood by this description of the Labour-aligned community board members and believed Davids was best suited to the chairperson role.

McLellan said Lynch's comments were bias.

“I think he [Lynch] is biased, he has always been a big supporter of Deon [Swiggs] and Alex so I personally don’t have a lot of time for him,” he said.

Jake McLellan. Photo: Supplied
Jake McLellan. Photo: Supplied

However, Lynch refuted this: “I am not biased, I just tell it how it is. I am not a member of The People’s Choice so I can think for myself, I don’t have a group-think mentality,” he said.

A part from being chairwoman of the community board, Davids is also chairwoman of Keep New Zealand Beautiful and Local Government New Zealand’s community board executive committee, a trustee of the Graeme Dingle Foundation and an employee for the Battered Women’s Trust, among various voluntary roles.

Davids was confident with her performance as chairwoman of the community board and said the move to appoint a new leader was not “morally right.”

However, McLellan thought the manoeuvre was purely democratic.

“This is democracy, anyone who says otherwise does not know what they are talking about," said McLellan. 

“The community has given us a mandate to fulfil our agenda and that is what we are trying to do.”

Sara Templeton. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Sara Templeton. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Sara Templeton, a city councillor who sits on the community board as an independent, did not think removing Davids from the role of chairwoman would be in the best interests of the communities the board serves.

“There is no doubt they [The People’s Choice] have the numbers, but I don’t agree that this would be best for the communities we serve,” she said.

Fellow independent board member Darrell Latham thought the move to oust Davids was “Trumpian” and a betrayal of the mantra of kindness preached by Labour leader and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

“I think The People’s Choice members of the board should listen to what their leader is saying and be kind,” he said.

Tim Lindley, another independent, said it was a case of party politics at its worst. But McLellan said this was nothing but “sour grapes.”

“If people want to question our actions, having a free and Democratic vote in a proper meeting, not in a dodgy stitched up meeting, what I would say to them with those comparisons to Trump, is count the vote," McLellan said.

An emergency meeting was called using Covid-19 powers to appoint a chair before the impending by-election. One of the board members was an essential worker and was unable to attend.

Yani Johanson. Photo: Supplied
Yani Johanson. Photo: Supplied
Fellow The People’s Choice member and city councillor Johanson said he had issues with this process.

“I did not agree with the process of using the emergency powers of Covid-19 to have a special meeting and appoint a chair prior to a by-election being held,” he said.

“I believe the fair thing to have done would be to wait for the outcome of the by-election and let the new board member have a vote.”

Lomax echoed his comments.

“This is all about ensuring all members have a say on who their leader is,” she said.

Guatam and Simons did not respond to requests for comment.






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