THE local body elections are over and the dust is settling.

There were those who were never interested, and about 60 per cent of the eligible voters have already gone back to sleep but reserve their rights to grizzle, despite the fact they never got off their collective chuff to bother voting.

Those successful candidates are looking forward to first meetings and finding out what committees they will be working on and sizing up their fellow councillors and board members for the three-year term ahead.

Those who stood on platforms of radical reform, parsimonious rate increases and huge criticisms of previous elected members are about to find out a few home truths about government.


By the time reform happens at the hectic snail's pace with which it moves, it cannot be described as "radical".

There is sweet beggar-all you can do without money and an increase in rates -- even if only microscopic -- is inevitable. Failing to increase rates revenue only loads on to future generations of councillors and ratepayers, the debts of today.

Previous elected members were probably working as hard and with as much integrity as those who came later, and have the benefit of hindsight. More recent councillors should be reluctant to become too critical, because their efforts will be judged in the same way by those who follow in their footsteps.

I love the way many councillors come in full of enthusiasm and not lacking self-assurance that they will produce results that all others failed to achieve. Yet within weeks, they have had the scales fall from their eyes; they realise that whatever command structure that prevailed in previous careers, and whatever independence they wielded in their own businesses, collective responsibility is very hard to work with for the independent thinker.

There are a myriad of one-term councillors who, having experienced the ecstasy of election night, found it wasn't worth the agony of three years swimming in golden syrup to make the most incremental of changes. They left before they were exhausted.

The fact is that achieving change in local and central government is a long game and it takes a special sort of person to be able to hack the pace, slow as it is, and to do the job with integrity of purpose.

I encourage all those starting their first term of elected representation to respect those around the table and respect those who put them there. Sacrifices will need to be made and they won't achieve all they promised they would -- there is no "i" in "team".

Regardless of the platform they stood on to get elected, the first priority is the betterment of the community they serve, the wise stewardship of the resources at their disposal and to get stuff done.


Having said that, I wish all power to those prepared to serve their communities in this way.