New blood signals change from 'stale' council

By Anita Moran

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Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Max Mason
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Max Mason

Tauranga leaders are showing their support for newly elected city councillors - one saying the city has moved away from a predominantly "male, pale, stale" council.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Max Mason said the chamber wished the newly elected members well.

"The high number of new councillors shows the community is looking for a new type of city governance. The debt issue has struck a chord with voters, and I think the public are also looking for a new sense of vision and direction.

"This is the opportunity to demonstrate a new can-do spirit from the new council. We know that money is tight, and they can't afford to fund every new idea, but they can make a difference by being more positive, innovative and by showing visible leadership in the community."

Mr Mason said the chamber welcomed the change in diversity.

"We have moved away from a predominantly male, pale, stale council to one that is more representative of the community with a different gender and age mix. Hopefully better decision-making is the result."

Mr Mason said if he had one wish it would be that the new council would clearly communicate it was business friendly.

"A healthy local economy is vital for job creation and raising income levels."

Age Concern Tauranga chairwoman Angela Scott said she was pleased.

"Personally, I think it is a very good result. I think we needed a change and a clean sweep is often a good thing."

She said she looked forward to hearing what the new councillors had to say about the Age Friendly City Strategy.

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said this had been a "pretty remarkable" election.

"It is a surprise that the majority of councillors did not make it through and there is a group of new ones coming through.

"Many of the ones no longer there have served for a long time.

"But I think the blend of old and new will provide the council with some future-proofing."

He said the low voter turnout was not a surprise but said he sensed there would be change within the council.

"I think it looks like a good council and there is a good mix of experience and fresh faces.

"I hope they can all put aside any preconceptions and work together for the better of our city."

Tauranga Arts Festival board chairman Glenn Dougal said it was important the new council recognised the social and economic benefits of the arts.

"We think that arts and culture play a major part in the city's identity."

He said the outcome of the election was not a surprise. "Voters signalled a change was required.

"I think the city does need a little bit of a revised vision."

Mr Dougal said all the councillors would be invited to the arts festival in a bid to make them see the importance of the arts in the community.

"We are looking forward to working with all the councillors on an events strategy and what they can help fund. We will be ready to work with them as soon as they are ready."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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