Never in all my years as a journalist has there been such interest in local body politics.
And I'm not talking about Len Brown's trials and tribulations.

By all accounts Rotorua is going through, or working towards, a renaissance of sorts.
Many people have remarked to me there seems to be an air of optimism about the place.

Just last week in a column in the Rotorua Daily Post, Chamber of Commerce chief executive Roger Gordon pointed out a distinct change in culture at the council.

"A different relationship is apparent between the mayor, council and the community," he wrote.


"People are talking to each other, and more importantly are listening to each other. This gives me a sense of excitement that we are beginning a new journey for Rotorua."
It's not surprising - we have a new mayor who campaigned in this year's election on a platform of change.

And change, it seems, is what this city desperately wants.

A wise man told me the huge amount of interest in this year's election was due mainly to an expectation of change.

Certainly the results of straw polls at mayoral forums and our own informal polling signalled strong support for the challenger Steve Chadwick.

But history has also shown a reluctance among voters to stray from the tried and tested (even this year only one of 12 councillors was ousted on the day).

That Mrs Chadwick defied that trend so strongly in her election win speaks volumes about Rotorua's desire to move ahead in a new direction.

Once again our choice for Rotorua Daily Post Person of the Year says as much about our community as it does about the person themselves.

Steve Chadwick represents a city with renewed vigour and a fresh desire to improve and grow.

As I said in today's story, her election was a sign of a city taking its first big step on a journey of positive change.

We are as excited about the possibilities of the new era as many, but we are also committed to holding the council to account on behalf of you, ratepayers and readers and will hold our new mayor to her promise of change for the better.

We don't always see eye to eye with Mrs Chadwick - she publicly disagreed with our policy on letters to the editor from council candidates - but we do respect her achievements, and today in naming her Person of the Year we recognise the boost she has given Rotorua, and look forward to seeing the hopes and dreams of a city come to life.