Changing of the guard at Porirua City Council
Porirua City Council will have at least four new faces settling into the comfortable chairs in the council chamber later this year. Last week we reported that four councillors were stepping aside at the local body elections in October – Tim Sheppard, Bronwyn Kropp, Ken Douglas and Litea Ah Hoi. That’s a lot of experience to disappear from the council scene.
All four ask pertinent questions and enliven any debate. The knowledge and foresight they bring to the chamber will be missed.
Douglas and Kropp told us the past two years had been particularly progressive for Porirua City Council on several fronts.
The city centre upgrade is moving ahead – although some clarity would be nice around whether the canopy-like coverings are coming back – the children and young person’s policy was a masterstroke, and other projects have gained traction under a mayor and council keen to push on.
The council seems more inclusive and cohesive in this term, perhaps because some of the personality-driven arguments that were such an ever-present factor between 2010 and 2013 have been non-existent this time.
What this council must do is keep challenging itself to do better. There are good people around that council table, and new faces will bring energy and ideas.
First-term councillors can easily find themselves overawed by the weight of documents that need to be read, and an inability to get traction on their pet projects.
In a chamber surrounded by confident speakers such as Euon Murrell, Nick Leggett and Douglas, it’s sometimes easier to keep your head below the parapet.
New councillors must not be scared to make themselves heard.
And a message to Porirua residents: if you’re not happy with the direction this council is headed, don’t shout from the sidelines, or merely clack away on a computer – stand up and be counted.
It is a heavy commitment, putting your name forward for local body elections, but Porirua has a proud history of community-minded people willing to be relatively lowly paid – $34,700 for a fairly full-on commitment – for the privilege of representing a part of the city.
It’s not a lot of money for, as one incumbent councillor told us recently, putting your life on hold to provide your neighbours with a voice.