Horowhenua Mayor Michael Feyen has used a Local Government New Zealand meeting this week to sow the seed for a new political party.
With more than 600 officials and delegates from around New Zealand at the Wellington meeting this week, Feyen sent an email to New Zealand's 78 councils mooting a "potential new system of governance for New Zealand/Aotearoa".
"Anyone brave enough to stand for such a party?" the email asked. Feyen said he would be prepared to stand against Ōtaki incumbent MP Nathan Guy at the next election should the idea gain support.
Feyen said it was important to stress that his idea was only "conceptual" at this stage, but was born out of frustration that local governance issues weren't being heard at a national level.
"It started as a doodle," he said.
"This is just an idea. Hopefully it will start a conversation on Local Government, going forward. I don't want to see it bastardised by an editor somewhere."
In the letter to fellow mayors, Feyen said it was his "humble observations and suggestions on possibilities to change the way we do Governance in New Zealand".
"I trust there is food for thought in amongst the content I am forwarding," the covering letter said.
"In my opinion, local government must become bolder and take active and direct engagement to Central Government level in a co-ordinated and more direct manner..." he said.
"Noting the talent pool...we will easily hold our own in achieving vastly more effective and timely assistance for all our respective regions...if we can get into Parliament."
"Clearly most councils have the same and common problems with Government and responsibilities which are increasing all the time."
Feyen suggested that mayors retain their mayoralty with the support of two deputy mayors who share the wages of the mayor and deputy mayor in recognition of the increased workload.
The mayor's income would be an MP's salary.
He said he received positive feedback. Sir Tim Shadbolt made a point of talking to him further on his idea.
"He said 'geez, you're a thinker, aren't you? This is the first time I have seen anybody put forward ideas like this'."
"There was no ugly feedback."
Feyen said he didn't want the issue to detract from his main focus of campaigning for a second term as Mayor of Horowhenua.
"Absolutely my focus is on Horowhenua and duties as Mayor," he said.
Meanwhile, one of the 24 items that was on the agenda was the right for a mayor to appoint his own deputy.
In future, a deputy mayor will continue to be decided by a democratic council vote, after a 72 percent majority from other councils saw the status quo remain.
Feyen had always advocated for the right to appoint his own number two, although that
was at odds with the majority of HDC councillors.
While the vote went against his own personal agenda, he said it was still a "grey area" and his stance had a lot of support, including neighbouring mayors from Manawatū and Whanganui.
"I'm not down in the mouth, not one iota," he said.
He received a lot of anecdotal support from mayors from other councils in the same predicament, including Shadbolt, who he said commended him on his stance.
There was a record 21 remits that were made official at the meeting from a total of 24 remits that were voted on, covering issues as varied as climate change, fireworks, campgrounds, alcohol and road safety.
Another key remit was the ban of fireworks for general public sale and an end to private use, which only went through with 67 per cent support.
The meeting also gave unanimous support for LGNZ representation to be included on all decisions made around climate change, including policy development, planning and financial compensation regimes.
Motorists would be well advised not to run red lights now a push for more cameras and policing of offences went through with 87 per cent support.
One item the HDC voted against was a ban on vehicle parking on grass berms, and that stance was supported by a 71 per cent majority against the proposal, while councils also voted to phase out single use polystyrene.
LGNZ represents New Zealand's 78 local, regional and unitary authorities. The local government sector was responsible for community assets worth more than $120 billion, including 90 per cent of New Zealand's road network.
Councils also oversee the bulk of the country's water and waste water networks, and libraries, recreation and community facilities.
Nationwide, council expenditure is approximately $8.5 billion, representing approximately 4 per cent of Gross Domestic Product and 11 per cent of all public expenditure.