• Christine Fletcher, re-elected to the Auckland Council last month, was also on the board of Auckland Transport. New mayor Phil Goff is not putting any councillors on the board.

While we're all gripped by the continuing drama of the US Presidential election campaign, I'm in recovery from the small scale drama of Auckland's local body election.

The outcome of a plan hatched by a few in the Beehive to gain control of local government in Auckland has not delivered a strengthened centre-right presence for the city.

It's not surprising. This grab for power from the right was clumsy and doomed from the start. It lacked integrity in terms of a genuine vision for Auckland and did not offer an intelligent response to the many challenges facing the Super City.


Underlying this fiasco was the uncomfortable relationship that the centre-right has had with long overdue investment in Auckland infrastructure, in particular public transport.

The impact of the division on the right, and the lack of a strong centre right candidate for the mayoralty, was that there was little interrogation of Phil Goff's policies or his suitability for the role. That kind of election is not good for Auckland.

With the election behind us, however, it's time to get back to business. We have big issues to deal with, and robust debate is essential to get the best thinking and make the best decisions.

The first step is for the mayor and council to make a decision to focus on the most important issues. I agree with the writer of the "letter of the week" in Saturday's Weekend Herald who encouraged Mr Goff to apply the business principle of taking time to understand all of the issues before making change. I hope he will do this and leave the issues of a new stadium or city branding aside for a while.

The biggest issue for Auckland is how we play catch-up on infrastructure without pushing the boundaries on rating increases. We need reprioritization of council expenditure, contestable policy advice, and an open debating environment that draws the best from councillors.

Transport is one area where strong interrogation of the options is going to be critical. We have to free up our congested roads. My advice to Mr Goff would be to appoint himself to the board of Auckland Transport. Politics are complicated and commercial directors don't always get the entire picture or understand the nuances.

Equally, politicians do not always have a good understanding of responsibilities of directorship, and the serious legal and financial risks directors incur when things go wrong.

As mayor of a council with a number of commercial entities, wearing the two hats of political and commercial responsibility would provide invaluable insights. Where better to do this than at Auckland Transport, a "council-controlled organisation" at the heart of thinking through how we shape our future city.

In Parliament the relationship with commercial agencies is better as professional chairs and directors of state-owned enterprise know that a select committee process will give them a thorough interrogation on their statements of intent - something yet to happen at Auckland Council where the questions usually range around local activities that should be delegated to Local Boards, not AT.

Councillors are yet to realise the power of a statement of intent and I am looking forward to working on this within the new council structure.

My one regret as I look to the next three years is the loss of the chair of the parks, recreation and sport committee. Our region has a magnificent network of regional parks.

There is much to be done to protect our parks, provide for the sustainability of sporting clubs, engage more Aucklanders in volunteering, and develop partnerships including aligning the council with the Department of Conservation on ecological issues.

So many New Zealanders choose to make Auckland their home. It's not surprising. This is an exceptional place to live, even with its clogged roads and housing problems. As councillors we have three years to make our contribution to the continuing story of the "first city of the Pacific" and develop what we need to retain our social, cultural and economic strengths.