John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Mayor leaves city a better place than he found it

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Tauranga's Mayor Stuart Crosby is seeking new horizons.  Photo/File
Tauranga's Mayor Stuart Crosby is seeking new horizons. Photo/File

Stuart Crosby's decision to relinquish his hold on the leadership of Tauranga was an astute decision by a man whose measured approach will see him go down in history as one of the city's most efficient and likable mayors.

He will be remembered for all the right reasons, rather than the infamy of being a mayor that drove decisions by hook or by crook.

Mr Crosby was a modern mayor, even before it became a pre-requisite of local government legislation. His unassuming nature concealed a carefully cultivated political acumen that saw the city through more than its fair share of crises and fractious councils.

After 12 years at the helm, and 15 years as a Tauranga councillor, it came as no surprise when he decided not to seek re-election. Despite being given a big fright in the 2013 mayoral contest by Kelvin Clout, the comparative invisibility of the current council, in my view, meant he would have cruised in this time around.

Instead his decision to stand down has thrown up a host of mayoral wannabes, with people that care about the city's future wondering what next week's election could throw up.

Tempting though it might have been for Mr Crosby to soldier on and see through vital issues like the escalating congestion of city roads and the exciting civic heart projects, he decided it was time to blood a new mayor and seek the calmer waters of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Mr Crosby will be well aware of the lack of ratepayer interest in the regional council, mostly because a big portion of its funding comes courtesy of its majority shareholding in the Port of Tauranga.

There was a lot of truth in the observation made at his valedictory meeting on Thursday that if Mr Crosby's salary was divided by the number of hours he spent on mayoral duties, he would have earned less than the minimum wage.

It is unlikely he ever looked at the job from that perspective. Instead he has devoted half of his 60 years to the wellbeing of the community, guiding and steering councils to make the right decisions, without any expectation that all the angst would be financially worth it.

If any criticism could be levelled at Mr Crosby, it was around the unhappy and exhausting process to restructure the council. Previously trusted senior managers left or were made redundant, paving the way for a new generation of young professionals. While that may not necessarily be a bad thing, the increase in the size of the restructured organisation upset a lot of ratepayers who usually associate restructuring with downsizing.

And let's not forget that ratepayers have been lumbered with half the cost of four laning Turret Rd and 15th Ave - something which Mr Crosby will surely be happy to pass on to the next incumbent, unless he can use his influence to siphon off more of the regional council's investment income into infrastructure. Maybe that will be the legacy of his new local government career path.

Whatever the future holds for Mr Crosby, residents can be assured that this man used all his manoeuvring skills and considerable knowledge to pilot through the important decisions for the future of Tauranga.


- Civics reporter John Cousins

- Bay of Plenty Times

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