Ac­tivist new on board

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Carly Tawhiao

A 23-YEAR-OLD com­puter pro­gram­mer and grass-roots ac­tivist has be­come the lat­est re­cruit for the Eden Al­bert Com­mu­nity Board.

City Vi­sion rep­re­sen­ta­tive Rochelle Rees was of­fi­cially sworn in on Mon­day at Fern­dale House in Mt Al­bert.

She re­places pre­vi­ous mem­ber Ryan Hicks who was au­to­mat­i­cally stood down for fail­ing to show up without apol­ogy to four con­sec­u­tive board meet­ings.

Be­cause the va­cancy was cre­ated by Mr Hicks less than a year be­fore the next lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions, a by­elec­tion is not re­quired.

Last week the board mem­bers con­fi­den­tially de­bated whether to leave the seat empty or to ap­point a new per­son.

Chair­man Christo­pher Dempsey says fol­low­ing earnest dis­cus­sion, the board voted in favour of fill­ing the seat.

“While there was some dis­agree­ment, the board voted by a ma­jor­ity to ap­point Rochelle,” he says.

Coun­cil­lor Glenda Fryer said the ap­point­ment was made to bet­ter serve the board.

“We need a per­son who will work as part of the team, take part of the work­load and be part of the in­ter­ac­tion with the com­mu­nity,” she said.

How­ever coun­cil­lor Mark Don­nelly said be­cause the board had been short a mem­ber for some time, the work­load had al­ready been picked up by the other mem­bers.

“It’s some­thing we have coped with. By the time some­one comes on board, they are not go­ing to be up to speed un­til Fe­bru­ary or March and we will be wind­ing down in July and Au­gust.”

He voted against fill­ing the va­cancy, but the ma­jor­ity of mem­bers voted in favour of it.

“The ward has been let down bad- ly by both the right and left par­ties. Firstly Eli­nor Har­vey missed most meet­ings when she moved out of Auck­land and then Ryan Hicks missed mul­ti­ple meet­ings lead­ing to the va­cancy.

“The City Vi­sion ma­jor­ity have taken the op­por­tu­nity to ap­point a party per­son from out­side the ward. Par­nell has greater rep­re­sen­ta­tion than Bal­moral or San­dring­ham, it’s ridicu­lous,” says Mr Don­nelly.

Ms Rees was un­avail­able for com­ment but her po­lit­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion’s web­site states her sup­port for en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, pub­lic trans­port, and help­ing the el­derly and those on low in­comes through fair wa­ter and rates charges.

It says one of the main mo­ti­va­tors that led her to stand in the 2007 elec­tions was to im­prove the chan­nels of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween youth and lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

As an an­i­mal wel­fare cam­paigner she is no stranger to po­lit­i­cal con­tro­versy.

In 2007 she outed her for­mer boyfriend Rob Gilchrist as a po­lice in­for­mant who was mas­querad­ing as an an­i­mal rights ac­tivist while last year she en­gi­neered a Google search of the word “clue­less” to go to Prime Min­is­ter John Key’s web­site.

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