Penny Hulse tipped to be Brown's deputy

By Bernard Orsman

Penny Hulse. Photo / Greg Bowker
Penny Hulse. Photo / Greg Bowker

Penny Hulse is expected to be appointed Deputy Mayor of the Super City today by Mayor-elect Len Brown.

Mrs Hulse is the Deputy Mayor of Waitakere City and was the top-polling candidate in the Waitakere ward for the Auckland Council.

The Herald understands Mr Brown has chosen her for his deputy ahead of Rodney councillor Penny Webster.

Mrs Webster, who is Mayor of Rodney and a former Act MP, is expected to receive a senior role from Mr Brown as he seeks to reach across the political aisle to build an inclusive council.

The appointment of a Deputy Mayor outside Mr Brown's Manukau stamping ground was guaranteed. Mrs Hulse also provides a gender balance and reflects the swing to the left at Saturday's Super City election. While she has no political affiliations, Mrs Hulse has strong environmental and community credentials as a Waitakere City councillor for 15 years.

Mr Brown is due to announce a committee structure, including the committee chairs, early next week.

He must choose two councillors to sit on the board of Auckland Transport, the only council-controlled organisation with political representation.

Mike Lee is a strong contender for one seat.

He shares Mr Brown's agenda for transport and as Auckland Regional Council chairman has done more than any other politician in recent times to spearhead the renaissance of rail in the region.

At the first formal meeting between Mr Brown and Auckland Council chief executive Doug McKay yesterday, Mr Brown expressed "a lot of respect and regard" for the businessman who is new to local government.

"I will be backing him up absolutely as he looks to assist in this transition, seamless and smooth as we can make it, to the new Auckland Council," Mr Brown said.

Mr McKay said that from what he knew about Mr Brown "I believe we share a common set of values around community, around family, around doing the right things".

Mr McKay, who has been in the job since August in the lead-up to the Super City on November 1, said a comprehensive risk analysis and mitigation plans were in place for the new set-up.

Apart from a civil defence disaster, the biggest risk was in information technology with 2500 computer systems and up to 8000 staff moving between locations in the next few months.

"There will be hiccups from day one and through the first 30 to 90 days, in my view. We are ready for those hiccups and will respond to them as they occur," Mr McKay said.

So far, Mr Brown has made two appointments to the mayoral office. His campaign manager, Conor Roberts, will be his chief political adviser. Phil Wilson, who manages the offices of the Mayor and chief executive at Manukau City Council, will be chief of staff.

Meanwhile, former Auckland City councillor Ken Baguley said he was not standing for the chairmanship of the Orakei Local Board and would support C&R colleague Desley Simpson.

It is understood there have been ructions within C&R over the leadership of the blue ribbon local board, where C&R won five of the seven seats.

Ms Simpson has been a popular chairwoman of the Hobson community board. Mr Baguley, an Auckland City councillor and highly regarded transport committee chairman who missed out on the C&R nomination for the Orakei ward, had to be content with standing for the local board.

- NZ Herald

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