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The Press-News column Oct 15

Christchurch Council election results.

The Garden City has just experienced its own, albeit orderly, version of the Arab Spring. Hurricane Broomstick has blasted through the city, spring-cleaning the council decks, wiping out the entrails of the A Team, re-setting the political pendulum and installing a radically different regime of representatives. When was the last time only four incumbents survived a council election in Christchurch? Mayor-elect Lianne Dalziel was at her radiant, rousing best on Saturday night, as she delivered her victory speech at the Copthorne Commodore. Most of the newly-elected councillors were in attendance, their fresh-eyed faces full of admiration and excitement, as they lapped up her blazing oratory, like perky cub scouts listening to Akela. When Dalziel is on form and on fire, she is positively Clintonesque. ( A la Hillary, not Bill.) But as observers of her political career will know, when she is under the pump,  Dalziel’s demeanour can descend into dogmatic, shouty, fits of anger. It’s the happy, disciplined, up-beat Lianne, of tempered metal and courageous leadership that Christchurch wants to see shine. With such a thunderous mandate, Dalziel has every opportunity to stamp her mark as a truly great mayor.  Transparent, inclusive and open governance has been the clarion call,  that swept Dalziel and so many newbies into public office. That is the lodestar they will be repeatedly judged by.  The People’s Choice political grouping is understandably ecstatic to have secured so much clout around the council table, which has clearly tilted left. But being a middle-of-the-road pragmatist, I can’t see this council being hijacked by a prescriptive template of hard-nosed lefty nostrums. The council table is well populated by free-minded thinkers, the independent and the centrists. By the way, expect a big court case soon. I believe Dalziel overwhelmingly has the numbers to authorise the council to seek a declaratory judgement  on EQC repair standards. You may recall my rather daring list of election predictions, last week.  Thankfully, I didn’t make a complete clot of myself, with Saturday’s results delivering an 85% strike rate. I bullishly picked Aaron Keown would do a Houdini. It wasn’t to be, although I note that he’s been re-elected onto the health board, despite his abysmal attendance record. Oh, the vagaries of the voter.  Meanwhile, the likes of Raf Manji, Paul Lonsdale, Ali Jones and Pauline Cotter carry the torch for a new generation of leadership. They also personify some home truths for those tiresome political dreamers who’ve been busy excoriating the media for “lack of coverage”. The message is clear. Serve a community board apprenticeship, or make a name for yourself in a high-profile community campaign, before pursuing the baubles of higher office.

Mike Yardley’s weekly column, first published in The Press.


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