The elected Mayor of Hamilton City Council Andrew King got stuck in to his new role, even before the recount was done and before he was officially sworn in. The official ceremony where he is given the big pimp coat and gold bling was this week (Wednesday the 9th of November). That ceremony however was slightly overshadowed by nailbiting then disbelief at the result of the American Presidential race and while we did have a little bit of nail biting, with regard to a recount which found a mere 6 votes between Mayor Andrew and runner up Paula Southgate – you could be forgiven for thinking it’s business as usual… and it is.
Newly elected, he got stuck straight in and proposed adjustments to how the Councillors do their work in terms of committees they sit on. Moving from eight to four with the appointed Chairperson choosing their own Deputy.
- The Finance committee will be chaired by Gary Mallet (the one who doesn’t like spending) and (a safe pair of hands and Accountant) Rob Pascoe as Deputy.
- Growth and Infrastructure (really important right now) chaired by Dave MacPherson (experienced and long term Councillor) and Geoff Taylor as Deputy. (Geoff’s a newbie, but will have heaps of knowledge from his time at the Waikato Times and Waikato Business News).
- Community and services committee, chaired by Paula Southgate with Philip Yeung. (Both known to be active in the community in their own right).
- Regulatory and Hearing committee, chaired by Angela O’Leary (who chaired the old Strategy and Policy committee) with Leo Tooman (ex-Cop… well one of; there are now two in Council).
Each Councillor (there are 12) will be involved in every committee where previously they would sit in some but not others. Mayor King believed this would be more inclusive, and would ensure the right hand knows what the left hand is doing.
The other change made at the time was to disband ‘Advisory panels’. These panels (Youth, Older persons, heritage, sustainability etc) ran alongside the council for input where appropriate. They will be replaced by taskforce groups, who will be formed ad hoc for set periods of time – as required for specific plans and issues needing more expert advice. He believes that with the experience of the Councillors and the vast and expert knowledge of people who already work at the Council (with approximately 1000 employees) that there shouldn’t be a need to consult external advisors.
Mayor Andrew has been steadfast that the Council’s role is purely to “enable the city to run properly” with a focus on roads, pipes, infrastructure and freeing up sections to build on. The population growth from the increased housing supply will fuel economic growth. The Council do not need to be involved in more specific areas. One of those “infrastructure issues” was water meters. While a conversation between the new Councillors is yet to happen, he suggested it’s “back to the drawing board”. Having strongly campaigned for “No water meters” he is adamant that the decision about water meters should remain with the Council and not with a Council Controlled Organisation (CCO).
In the lead up to the election – (then) Cr King was critical that the City News wasn’t being used as effectively as it should be – and that there was a level of political interference happening. Chief Executive Richard Briggs will bring a report to the new Council about the publication for future discussion. As one of the founders of Politics in the Tron, I am interested how information is delivered from Council to the public so will be watching this with interest.
On a more personal note – When I asked what he liked most about Hamilton he mentioned the convenience of being close to beaches, and ease of getting around town; as well as our architecture? …but also the people. What you see is what you get. That sums Hamilton up quite nicely actually. Love it or hate it… it is what it is.
Mayor Andrew will definitely keep that Council honest. His platforms, of accountability, transparency, honesty and no frills will leave few surprises to ratepayers and residents of the city during his term.
Monthly catch-up’s with the Mayor will be a regular segment on Kelli from the Tron, so if you have any issue related questions please feel free to send them through to me.
You can also follow him on his facebook page: Andrew King – Hamilton Mayor.
For Mayor Andrew’s sake I’m putting a little disclaimer here… Some of this is my understanding or interpretation and some of it is gathered from the interview that you can hear on this week’s show. Not everything is in his words.