No place for egos on council
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.’’