It’s hard to predict which Councillors are going to lead which portfolios, especially when we don’t know what the portfolios are going to be. We do know that there are too many portfolios to allow for an effective Council as it stands today, and there will be changes.
If we take my model of yesterday, then there would be a dozen portfolios plus the Deputy Mayor as a thirteenth role. The assumption being that the Deputy Mayor, as well as Mayor, is a full-time role with specific accountabilities and would not have the time to lead a portfolio also.
Let’s imagine that I am right, and the twelve portfolios I guessed at do come to life. Who would be best suited to lead each portfolio? I’m going to start with the Deputy Mayor role because it is slightly different and then we can rule that person out of any other portfolios.
Let’s shake it up a bit…
This has been the subject of much speculation over the last few days, toys are being thrown we understand, letters no doubt written that will be regretted, and everyone being tight-lipped.
The Deputy Mayor needs to be a woman, shouldn’t be from the Mayor’s ward, should be experienced at Council, have a history of delivery, someone you can trust, someone who will have similar alignment to your beliefs, a good profile, be able to work full-time on the role including travel, and have some professional bearing.
That rules out pretty much everyone aside from three people.
Nicola Young, Iona Pannett, and Fleur Fitzsimons.
Nicola holds very similar views to Andy, and the two align in most areas. She ticks all our boxes, and even though some of the left would hate the choice, you can’t please everyone. If you choose someone on the left, then the right will hate them as well. She’s a logical choice.
Iona misses on a couple of counts. She’s seen as extreme left, so she doesn’t fit with Andy’s centrist world. She votes on ideological bases (which she is upfront about), which means that she may not be counted on to vote how Andy would like, she’s just started a near-full time job, which means she wouldn’t have the time to take the role on without quitting that.
If you had to give away the Deputy role to someone on the left, then it would be Fleur, who ticks most of our boxes as well but is also Labour through and through. Again she may not be counted to vote in Andy’s corner.
I think it’s going to be Fleur or Nicola, and I am tipping Nicola by a nose.
Arts and Culture
If Nicola were not our Deputy Mayor, this would be her role. She has good experience in the area and could continue to grow it significantly with the expanded responsibility. But she’s not. So, we need someone else.
I’d pick Simon Woolf. He’s well-known about town, the former City Ambassador, and has a large social media reach so he’d be instrumental in the promotion of the area. It’s not the easiest of roles and requires a lot of time out and about. Simon is affable, social, and engaging; he’d handle this role with style.
Children & Young People
Iona Pannett. Frankly, Iona is the kind of person that you want in this role. She has a younger family, is passionate about the future, could do with a change from her current responsibility, and has the experience of managing children in an ever-changing city.
Add in that passion around Climate Change and leaving a legacy for younger generations, her track record in Council, and you have a powerful advocate for an area that is currently woefully underpowered.
This would go to Sean Rush. While a first-time Councillor, Sean’s professional background would lend a real strength, with a climate-focused view, to this area. It’s a tough area because it often gets forgotten, and it needs a “get shit done” kind of personality to see its profile raised.
City Wide Projects
I’d give this to Laurie Foon. Nowhere do we need a more critical and intelligent eye, as well as our Climate Change lens, than the area of city-wide projects. Again, a green (and Green) Councillor, Laurie does come with a professional background that could be brought to bear in what has traditionally been a bit of a boy’s club come dinosaur thinking area of Council.
This portfolio needs less emotion, more science, and the ability to turn an emergency into an actionable do now plan plus mitigation. So, it must be Jenny Condie. Again, her professional background would lend a good deal of credibility to the portfolio as well as ensure that the community was involved and an actual plan was developed.
Diane Calvert has a long background in the community area, and while she missed making a difference in her previous portfolio, understands how the communities in the city work. She’s a passionate advocate for residents and takes the time to understand what is happening on the ground. It’s not a perfect fit, but Diane would also bring a different perspective to shake things up.
I’d give this to Fleur Fitzsimons. It’s languished for some time, and it’s often lacked a social face to what is seen as a capitalist machine that eats poor people. A little more balance then is bought by a Labour candidate making alignment with central government initiatives to boost the economy easier. Probably not Fleur’s comfort zone, but she’s been in some very uncomfortable zones and managed them well.
Rebecca Matthews is more than capable of taking the mantle from Jill Day and the good work she has done here, carrying it forward. Rebecca is a new Councillor, and this is a critical area for the city and part of its very foundations and strategic future. It needs a strong, passionate, fresh face to make progress.
I’d assign this to Jill Day. I suspect despite her previous low-profile she is a sleeping giant. This area needs a significantly powerful relationship manager, and Jill fits that neatly. She has mana and presence, is approachable, intelligent, and comes across as trustworthy. It’s possibly out of her comfort zone and would require a lot of work, but I suspect she’s up for it.
This portfolio needs to go to someone who engages with youth, is still idealistic about the future, is more social than capitalist, has ideas of their own, understands (was brought up with) technology, and learns fast. Teri O’Neill. Hands down. It’s a youthful portfolio, and it needs a youthful pair of hands to engage with a very youthful community and industry.
The problem with Malcolm Sparrow is that he is accused of never leaving Tawa, and he’s been part of a great team that is very community and socially focused up North. In this role, he takes that ethos to the entire city. I think he has a lot to give and it’s time he expanded that influence he has beyond Tawa.
Sarah Free, who else? Sarah has spent most of her Councillor life working hard in this area already and does have, believe it or not, a balanced view of transport. Sure, she’s Green, but she’s also an engineer by trade and can be convinced with rational debate. Many of you will disagree with me, but I think there is a bit of Solomon type wisdom there, with all the consequences.
Trust, Transparency, and Engagement
This area needs a jolly good kick in the guts. It hasn’t worked for a decade or more, and it’s time someone got in and did something completely disruptive and turned it upside down. In short, whatever we are doing now, is wrong, not working, so let’s tear it down. Tamatha Paul wins the prize, fresh thinking, passionate, calls a spade a spade, transparent, and engaging. Easy.
Categories: Wellington City Council