Young leaders moving up
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.