No place for egos on coun­cil

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

The Clyde Rail­way Sta­tion seems an ap­pro­pri­ate place for outgoing Cen­tral Otago District coun­cil­lor and Vin­cent Com­mu­nity Board mem­ber Clair Higginson to re­flect on her past four terms in lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

Around 2004, the com­mu­nity board had a vi­sion to turn the sta­tion into a build­ing that could help gen­er­ate its own in­come and be­come part of Clyde’s legacy. The com­mu­nity got be­hind the project, drove the process and it is now ‘‘do­ing the things we wanted it to do’’.

‘‘Every­thing is in­ter­linked - our econ­omy, en­vi­ron­ment and com­mu­nity - to­tally weighted to­gether. Those are the sorts of rea­sons I stood for the com­mu­nity board and coun­cil and the tem­plate I have used for be­ing on coun­cil.’’

Higginson was elected to the com­mu­nity board in 2004 and coun­cil in 2007, hav­ing moved to Cen­tral Otago in 1996 from Perth where she had worked as a process plant op­er­a­tor and trainer at the ar­gyle di­a­mond mine, as well as served on the Women’s Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil to the Pre­mier of Western Aus­tralia.

A big evo­lu­tion dur­ing her time in lo­cal gov­ern­ment has been see­ing coun­cil and com­mu­nity boards work­ing to­gether across the district, rather than sep­a­rately in iso­la­tion from one another.

‘‘I think that is an im­por­tant growth step and I see more of that hap­pen­ing.’’

Over time, the coun­cil has made sig­nif­i­cant de­ci­sions that will ben­e­fit Cen­tral Otago’s fu­ture - such as the de­ci­sion to mea­sure and charge for wa­ter use and to rate for wa­ter across the district.

While peo­ple can be crit­i­cal of coun­cil and com­mu­nity board de­ci­sions, she says it is im­por­tant there is a demo­cratic process.

‘‘Some­times be­ing crit­i­cal of this democ­racy is not very help­ful. The way to be in­volved in the com­mu­nity process is to be in there, not stand on the out­side say­ing why don’t you do it this and that.

‘‘It is good to step for­ward but it’s also good to step back and let other peo­ple come for­ward...Some­times you need to take crit­i­cism on the chin. How­ever, if I don’t en­able my­self to feel stuff then I am not be­ing me. It is be­cause I am me that I am in there, not be­cause I am a card­board cutout. It’s im­por­tant to make that per­sonal in­vest­ment and say there is no place for egos. I ab­so­lutely be­lieve there is no place for egos in that pub­lic life.’’

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