Board member Lucy Schwaner quits, questions why her young children brought into fray

By Cherie Howie, Bernard Orsman

Lucy Schwaner and her husband, Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross.
Lucy Schwaner and her husband, Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross.

Lucy Schwaner who dramatically quit the Howick Local Board last night says her ability to chair the board with young children was dragged into question.

Schwaner resigned less than a month after the local body elections after losing the chairmanship to David Collings by 5 votes to 4.

"I was surprised to learn there are some questions about whether I could do the job because I had young children," Schwaner said in an email to board members last Sunday.

"I can assure you that my children will not be an impediment to my serving as your chair just as they haven't been for other female politicians like Lisa Whyte in Upper Harbour and Julie Fairey in Puketapapa who have both served as chair of their board with young children.

I was surprised to learn there are some questions about whether I could do the job because I had young children
Lucy Schwaner

"Their boards saw an individual who met their expectations of a good chairperson, regardless of their family situation. I hope our board can be as open minded," said the email, seeking backing in her bid to become chair.

Today Schwaner, who is married to Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross, would not say who questioned her ability to chair the board with two young children.

"Those who brought it up know who they are," she said.

Collings could not be reached today for comment on the issue.

In her resignation letter, Schwaner alleged that under the chairmanship of Collings in the past term, the board had become a "toxic environment" and a culture had developed of attacking council employess.

"He is unprofessional, he is a poor leader and he has fixed views on issues," she said.

"I have no confidence in the leadership of the Howick Local Board," Schwaner said in the letter to council chief executive Stephen Town.

Last night, Collings said Schwaner walked out after the board voted in favour of him serving a second term as chairman.

He said her decision was "disappointing" and a surprise given they both stood on the Vision and Voice ticket.

In response to her allegations, he said: "I'm not going to lower myself to that level. I've got the support of the community and I've got support from the board." He denied a culture existed of attacking council staff.

A council spokeswoman said Schwaner's resignation had been received and a byelection would be held in the Botany subdivision of the Howick Local Board.

The spokeswoman said a byelection could not occur before February 17 and it was too early to confirm a date and the likely cost.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 22 Feb 2017 01:10:40 Processing Time: 524ms