A Hamilton City councillor who missed a quarter of council meetings in the first 10 months of the term says she's no slacker and the attendance records are a false representation of who is working hard.
Councillor Angela O'Leary has the lowest attendance as of the end of July - so far missing 25 per cent or 15 of the 60 council meetings, committee, briefings and workshops she sits on since last year's election, according to information provided under the Local Government Official Information Act.
Hamilton deputy mayor Geoff Taylor had the next worst attendance rate, missing 20 per cent - 12 of the 60 meetings he was expected to show up to. Councillors Margaret Forsyth, Mark Bunting and new mum Sarah Thompson missed 16 per cent, 15 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.
While councillor Ewan Wilson - who has come under fire in previous terms for not showing up to council - has the best attendance, only missing 6 per cent or four meetings and briefings followed closely by Martin Gallagher and Dave Macpherson.
None of the 13 elected members who have a minimum salary of $92,500 regardless of how many meetings they attend have a perfect attendance.
O'Leary said the attendance records were a false representation because they only recorded daytime meetings and didn't count any of the other events councillors went to including at nights and at the weekends.
"I've never slacked off on any job in my entire working career. It's just a terrible way to assess somebody's working abilities."
O'Leary chaired one of the two biggest committees - infrastructure - and sat on external committees at the regional council, but these were not counted.
"With the size of the portfolio I have, sometimes you just have to rationalise things. Like in November there's a water conference in New Zealand and it's really important ... I'm going to miss two or three meetings - so what do you do."
She also spent a lot of time responding to the hundreds of emails she received every week.
Deputy Mayor Geoff Taylor said if he wasn't attending meetings it was because he was on other council business in his role as deputy and wanted these reasons to be recorded in the future.
While he made sure he never missed an important vote, he said there was no point in attending briefings if you already knew the subject inside out.
"Formal council meetings and standing committee meetings - I want to be at every one of those, but occasionally there is deputy mayor business that I need to do and that's my job."
Taylor also wanted more detail recorded about why people were absent.
"If you are away on council business it is a bit tough to get slammed for it, and if you away for five minutes and you miss a vote it is a bit tough to be categorised as part attendance if you have been there for eight hours."
Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate - who missed 10 per cent or 6 of the 62 meetings she was due to attend - said in her role as mayor it would be impossible to be at every meeting but she attended as many as she could.
Work was underway to make attendance records more transparent and provide more details about why they absent and how long for as the current system counted a part attendance as anything from popping outside to make a quick phone call to missing a large part of a meeting.
She said while attendance records could show a trend, it needed to be considered alongside the "invisible" work councillors were doing in their constituencies and the events they were attending as their role as councillor.
Councillor Ewan Wilson said he had vowed to himself if he was re-elected for a third time that he would attend every council meeting he could and this reflected his high attendance rate.
"...I was determined to give this 100 per cent because it is a privilege - I love what I do."
Wilson said he only missed one full council meeting in March and it was the day after his mother died so he was "a bit of mess".
While Wilson didn't think it was fair to think people would be at every meeting due to sickness or family issues, he said it was fair to assume that they should be trying their very levelled best to be there.
The introduction of technology such as Zoom this year meant it was hard not to attend a meeting giving people even less of an excuse and he had zoomed into meetings from a quarantine bus and Canada, he said.
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