Young lead­ers mov­ing up

The Tribune (NZ) - - CONVERSATIONS - JA­NINE RANKIN, SE­NIOR RE­PORTER

Palmer­ston North mayor Grant Smith must have had a fine old time ar­rang­ing his team of 15.

The vot­ers pro­vided him with a col­lec­tion of se­ri­ously able in­di­vid­u­als who bring a great mix of youth and ex­pe­ri­ence to the coun­cil ta­ble.

And he has rather cun­ningly ap­pointed Tangi Utikere, who has both, as his deputy.

Af­ter three se­nior coun­cil­lors re­signed and one lost his seat at Oc­to­ber’s lo­cal body elec­tions, it makes a lot of sense to pro­mote some of the mid­dle-or­der coun­cil­lors to po­si­tions of greater re­spon­si­bil­ity.

In the case of sec­ond-term coun­cil­lor Rachel Bowen, that was an easy and pain­less thing to do, with the cre­ation of a new arts, cul­ture and her­itage com­mit­tee for her to chair.

But in other cases, there has been a rip­ple of col­lat­eral dam­age.

Sec­ond-term coun­cil­lor Aleisha Ruther­ford, the youngest on the team, has been given the role of chair­woman of the com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee.

That has pushed the peo­ple’s favourite, high­est-polling coun­cil­lor Lew Find­lay, off the chair.

With a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing the heart of the coun­cil, the com­mu­nity-spir­ited, prac­ti­cal Find­lay has cared deeply for that com­mit­tee for many years.

But his hold on it was loos­ened just af­ter the 2013 elec­tions, when he was pushed out.

De­spite Smith’s diplo­matic spin on the mat­ter, that Find­lay will be quite busy enough with his se­niors and aged-care port­fo­lio and project to have Palmer­ston North recog­nised as aged-friendly, it is plain he has been de­moted.

Even the new coun­cil­lors have all been given port­fo­lio re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. Newly-elected Brent Bar­rett has been en­trusted with two.

The other in­ter­est­ing change Smith made was with his choice of deputy mayor, which in­volved the side­ways rel­e­ga­tion of for­mer deputy Dun­can McCann.

McCann was al­ways a con­tro­ver­sial choice for the role.

But Smith went ahead and ap­pointed McCann any­way, a de­ci­sion that saw the well­re­spected act­ing mayor and long­est-serv­ing coun­cil­lor, Jim Jef­feries, side­lined.

On a pos­i­tive note, se­nior coun­cil­lor Adrian Broad is bound­ing around quite pleased to see his con­stant re­frain about the im­por­tance of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment fi­nally paying off, with his for­mer port­fo­lio now pro­moted into a com­mit­tee.

Af­ter nine years, Broad fi­nally gets to chair a com­mit­tee, the only one of the Gold-card-hold­ing coun­cil­lors to do so.

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