Time to speak out, councillor

By Mark Dawson

Mark Dawson, Editor of Wanganui Chronicle
Mark Dawson, Editor of Wanganui Chronicle

Jack Bullock is a young man at the crossroads.

By most accounts, the 23-year-old is highly regarded as a Wanganui councillor and his high polling in the October election indicates strong community support.

The election result followed news that he faced bankruptcy for unpaid debts.

That particular hiccup didn't dent his popularity, in fact, it saw a rallying around of supporters.

And so has his latest skirmish with the law, his arrest on a drugs charge on Friday.

But Councillor Bullock would be unwise to take too much comfort from the "hugs" social media is sending his way. It could cloud his judgment on the realities that lie beyond the online world.

He faces a couple of decisions, one of them he has already made, insisting he will not resign from the council over what are still allegations of criminal behaviour.

Well, there is precedent for politicians who have hung on in such situations.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is clinging to power and he was smoking crack cocaine, and closer to home, Auckland Mayor Len Brown looks like he will survive a sizeable scandal.

The greater decision for Jack Bullock is how he addresses his tarnished reputation.

The common cry has been "well, it's only cannabis ... everyone does it".

That echoes similar pleadings: "It was only a couple of drinks and a short drive home" ... "It was only a little push" ... "It was only a bit of shoplifting".

Everyone does it, right?

But the law isn't a bendy toy to be twisted to suit people's weaknesses and, as a councillor, Mr Bullock should uphold it.

So here's one option, Jack. Tell the people of Wanganui - and especially the younger ones who look up to you - that you won't be smoking cannabis.

And if you believe it isn't harmful and the law is wrong, join the campaign for the legalisation of marijuana.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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