Horowhenua Mayor Michael Feyen has been taken to task after ignoring the democratic will of his own council to push his own agenda at a Local Government New Zealand meeting in Wellington earlier this week.
It was described as a sad day in the history of Horowhenua District Council.
Deputy Mayor Wayne Bishop spoke out at a council meeting this week after learning Feyen
had backtracked on a mandate given to him by council, instead casting his own vote.
Bishop accused Feyen of ignoring a basic democratic process.
"Why are we even here?" he asked.
Feyen had just returned from the LGNZ meeting where he was given a clear mandate on which way to vote on24 different remits, ranging from a fireworks ban to parking on grass berms.
Council had met a week earlier and voted on each remit, and councillors had the understanding that Feyen was to carry those decisions to the LGNZ meeting.
When it came to Item 23 "That LGNZ request the Government...give Mayors the same powers to appoint a deputy mayor as held by the Mayor of Auckland", he ticked his own box, despite being instructed otherwise at an earlier meeting.
Bishop wanted Feyen to explain why he had gone against the will of the council at a national level to push through his own agenda with a last-minute voting change.
"It's a sad day when a vote is not upheld by an elected Mayor...it's a sad day for democracy," he said.
"I just want you to explain to the public why you have done this...you stepped outside of the process. You didn't represent the views of this council."
"The stance of this table and of this community wasn't upheld. I just wonder if we are wasting our time here.
"If you think we are getting in the road of what you are wanting to do, tell us, and we'll leave."
Feyen had long advocated for the right to appoint his own deputy, born from his desire to have councillor Ross Campbell at his side during this three-year term.
But a deputy mayor had always been decided by a democratic vote among councillors, which this term had Wayne Bishop appointed.
Councillor Ross Campbell leapt to Feyen's defence, saying it was not the right time to bring up the issue as it wasn't part of the meeting agenda, but Feyen allowed Bishop to continue.
In his response Feyen said he was buoyed by the comments and support he had from other mayors he spoke to at the conference when talking about the issue,
"That's why I decided to vote that way," he said.
"It's been a very touchy subject at the council for a long time. I believe it will still have to be looked at."
"I represent this council and this community as hard as I can at everything. Given the background, I took this stance based on my observations over the last three years."
Feyen said the 72 majority wasn't a true reflection of support for the remit, as many other mayors he spoke to felt the same way as he did.