Simpson looks to life after council
Gary Simpson believes no one is irreplaceable.
The Porirua City Council chief executive announced on February 20 he would be standing down in October. He has held the position since 2010.
Although Porirua only offers five-year contracts for its chief, he was asked to stay two more years.
His decision to leave, however, was made when he took up the reins.
‘‘When I came in five years ago I spoke at a meeting of council staff,’’ he said. ‘‘I spoke for an hour about where the council should go. [Previous chief executives] John Seddon was in the role 20 years, Roger Blakeley 10 and I said I would be here five.’’
Simpson, who will be 63 when he leaves, said it was not a difficult decision. He regretted not having the chance to be in the job as a younger man.
He said though there was a perception that chief executives loved the role because of the hefty pay packets, that was not the case.
‘‘ This job goes way beyond employment for me,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve loved my time here – this council has been a big part of my life, but I decided 63 would be a good time to retire.
‘‘I’m going to take some time and see what’s next.
‘‘Ironically, for someone whose job is about short, medium and long-term goals, I don’t have any for myself.’’
Simpson said his golf game and his first grandchild, due in June, would get much attention, but he has not ruled out a role, on a parttime or contract basis, somewhere in local government.
He hoped his experience and particular strength in governance would hold him in good stead.
He is adamant he will have no say in the appointment of a new chief executive, but modestly said his departure would be a ‘‘blip’’ and the council was on a good track.
No-one was irreplaceable, he said.
He said his two stints at Porirua City Council were starkly different.
When he was general manager of leisure assets, he oversaw spending on Porirua Park and the construction of Te Rauparaha Arena, but lost his job in a restructure.
However, after the Christchurch earthquakes and the global credit crunch, his second stint was more about efficiencies in services and reining in costs.
Simpson said Transmission Gully, amalgamation and the imminent council 10- year plan were huge challenges he was proud to be a part of.
‘‘This council is different to the first I worked with [from 2010 till 2013] and they have a clear direction,’’ he said. ‘‘Things are as good as they can be and there is a solid financial base to work off.’’
Working with mayor Nick Leggett was an enjoyable experience, Simpson said. Leggett returned the compliment.
‘‘ When you lose someone of Gary’s calibre and experience, it’s sad,’’ Leggett said.
‘‘He’s been part of this council for a long time — I’ve worked with him since 1998 — and he can be proud of the many things that have been achieved in the city. He’s a true professional.’’
Leggett said there was more disappointment than shock at the news, but Simpson would have a lot of work before October.
On the move: Porirua City Council chief executive Gary Simpson, who is leaving his job in October.