My interest in council started when I served as Palmerston North and then Manawatū area commander.
A Palmy resident since my posting here in 1997 as detective senior sergeant in charge of the local Criminal Investigation Branch, I was area commander between 2004 and 2014.
During that time, I chaired the Palmerston North Safety Advisory Board, steering it from inception through to 2014 when the city gained international Safe Community accreditation, a status that was renewed in 2019.
This had me working closely with council officers, learning about community development and the opportunities for achieving better and more sustainable community outcomes through partnering with other organisations.
After 2014, I temporarily worked with the Ministry of Social Development in Wellington before being assigned to Timor Leste as an adviser in support of a community policing development programme.
My initial posting of eight months turned into a thoroughly rewarding 18-month secondment.
The resilient people of Timor Leste had endured colonisation by Portugal, and then a 24-year occupation by Indonesian forces. Their response to independence as a newly minted democratic state is an inspiring story of ambition, determination and hope.
The experience of working alongside these incredible people helped me focus on what is really important.
I left the police in 2018 and added my name to the ballot paper for the 2019 Palmerston North City Council elections.
For new councillors, the first year is an intense one. Understanding the context of problems, issues, challenges and opportunities facing the city is essential for every elected representative.
Newbies, however, also need to quickly come up to speed with council procedures, standing orders and portfolio work, as well as knowing the history of ongoing council projects.
In Palmy's 150th jubilee year we have some big decisions to make regarding the future of city wastewater, and submissions on our 10-Year Plan to consider.
Community development continues to interest me, to ensure we achieve equity in terms of investment across the city's various communities.
On being elected, I picked up the Safe City portfolio, meaning I again chair the Safety Advisory Board. Funny how things can go full circle.
Crucial for Palmy's viability and vitality is the development of our CBD as a safe vibrant focal point for residents and visitors.
How we feel about our place, and how the city presents to others remains critically important.
It's a good thing to be Palmy proud!
• Patrick Handcock is a Palmerston North city councillor.