Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Why Hunt thinks she missed out

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Former district councillor Karen Hunt led the Rotorua Lakes Council's inner city revitalisation project.
Former district councillor Karen Hunt led the Rotorua Lakes Council's inner city revitalisation project.

Outgoing district councillor Karen Hunt said her high profile role leading Rotorua's inner city revitalisation project could have led to her downfall in Saturday's elections.

In what came as a surprise to many, two of the Rotorua Lakes Council's hardest working councillors - Janet Wepa and Karen Hunt - missed out on re-election after Saturday's elections.

Mayor Steve Chadwick and deputy mayor Dave Donaldson spoke highly of their former council colleagues, both saying they had put a huge amount of effort into their portfolios.

Mrs Wepa led the Sustainable Living Portfolio and was chairwoman of the council's Operations and Monitoring committee.

Ms Hunt was lead councillor for the Inner City Revitalisation portfolio and fronted some of the council's more controversial projects such as the Green Corridor and health hub.

"A lot of people were averse to change and a large group orchestrated a campaign to keep things as they were.

"I had the most visible portfolio that brought about the most obvious changes."

She pointed to projects such as the City Focus redevelopment, the shared library and children's health hub, inner city parking, and the fact she spent two-and-a-half years on the stakeholder advisory group for the regional council's Rotorua lakes clean up project as possible issues that stood in the way of her re-election.

"But, I am proud of what I achieved, I got the work done and I said what I meant.

"I worked really hard for the things I believed in and I believe our city is the better for that work."

She said she was philosophical after her loss and did not expect to get back on council after special votes were counted.

"But, there is a larger group who appeared to be afraid of change.

"My first two terms were a paralysis of indecision.

"No action was taken, but Steve [Chadwick] came in on a sea of change and I had been waiting to do all those things I did this term that I wanted to do in my first two terms.

"I have to thank the community for their support, it would have been great if some projects could have happened sooner and you don't get it all right, but you get more right than if you do nothing at all."

She said she had a fantastic nine years on the council and wished the new council all the best.

"I'm sure that something else will pop up for me soon and I have a whole summer to think about what I'll do in the future.

"But, I'm in good spirits and I know I've done a good job - that's democracy for you," she said.

Mrs Wepa did not respond to requests for comment.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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