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The Herald on Sunday editorial

Herald on Sunday editorial: Welcome new mayors and councils

The new Mayor of Auckland has more powers than mayors of other places. Photo / Dean Purcell
The new Mayor of Auckland has more powers than mayors of other places. Photo / Dean Purcell

Congratulations to all the new mayors, councillors and members of local and community boards elected in cities and districts around the country yesterday. No matter how small the community, or how low the turn-out, to be entrusted to make decisions for the public good is a tribute to the chosen and a challenge.

They may be waking up this morning with the realisation that the excitement is over and they have hard work ahead. Mayors apart, local government is seldom in the limelight. That is especially so for councils such as Auckland's, that are supposed to keep strictly to matters of policy and principle, leaving "operational" decisions to officers.

Unfortunately, it is operational decisions that are most likely to cause friction and controversy that elected representatives will have to face.

The new Mayor of Auckland has more powers than mayors of other places. The office has power to appoint committee chairs and draft the council's budget.

The mayoralty has the resources and staff to take its own initiatives and lead the city in every sense.

The political complexion of new councils has been under much discussion since the election results came through yesterday. But it pays to remind those elected that few, if any, of them made political allegiances known to the voters and they ought to bear that in mind over the next three years.

They ought to keep an open mind on issues that come up and rule out no solutions to problems on ideological grounds alone. If the council needs to sell an asset they should not stand in the way. If the council needs to provide a service that no local business offers, they should do it.

While congratulating the elected we should not forget the unsuccessful. Some of them were incumbents and wondering since yesterday what they did wrong. Quite likely they did nothing wrong. Local elections can be arbitrary and cruel to those who work hard, attract little attention and get lost in the shuffle.

All who offered themselves for election with a genuine wish to serve their community deserve the utmost credit. Hopefully in their disappointment today they will not lose their community spirit.

Every community is better off for the efforts of those who take an interest in decisions affecting it. They are the ones who organise at the grass roots, call meetings, make submissions, keep a watch on councils. Their role is as valuable as any.

To them all who stood we say thank you, and to the elected, good luck.

- Herald on Sunday

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