New mayor says ‘fresh look’ not necessarily change

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Central Otago’s new mayor has hit the ground running as he meets his council team and prepares for a new era.

Tim Cadogan said he was “looking forward to the challenge” of being mayor and bringing a new style of leadership and communication to the Central Otago District Council (CODC).

Mr Cadogan, who received twice as many votes (5288) as previous mayor Tony Lepper (2637), said his election campaign had focused on the need for increased and improved communication and consultation between the council and its ratepayers.

“It’s what I campaigned heavily on and the fact that I have won with such a clear margin shows me that is really important to people, and it can’t be ignored. It’s a clear message, the results are unequivocal.”

Mr Cadogan said much good work had been done improving the council culture, but more needed to be done.

He was looking forward to meeting council staff members and councillors, and had already met council chief executive Leanne Mash.

This week he was “on the road” meeting all of his councillors, and moving in to his council office.

He said other than wanting to improve council communication, he did not have any other specific policies he would pursue immediately, and wanted to talk to his councillors before starting to “talk policy”.

But “absolutely everything” would be on his radar, he said.

“I’ve got everything in my mind. There’s going to be a totally fresh look at everything. That doesn’t mean changing everything, it just means looking at everything with fresh eyes.”

Mr Cadogan, who is also a Central Lakes Trust (CLT) trustee, said he had already told the CLT he would retire from his role at the next CLT elections, later this year. He has already resigned from his role as a disputes tribunal referee, and will cut his law practice to 5% of its workload, keeping a small amount only of youth advocacy and family law work.

He praised the “honourable campaigns” that fellow mayoral candidates Tony Lepper and Martin McPherson had run, and said he was looking forward to working with Mr McPherson in his role as CODC councillor.

He was also looking forward to the future ventures of previous mayor Mr Lepper, who still had much to offer the community.

“He has a lot to offer. I hope this is not the end of his public service.”

Mr Lepper said he was obviously disappointed with the result and thought it would have been closer. He said two things had contributed significantly to the voting result: the “mood for change”, and community discontent with a council policy to even out rates, that saw some wards face significant increases.

However, he was still pleased he and the council had opted to change the rating policy earlier this year rather than put if off until after the election, and it would not have been fair to delay the changes for political reasons.

“Some people would have put it off, but I think the right time to change something is when you realise it’s wrong. I’m still glad we made the changes when we did.”

Mr Lepper said he was planning on taking some time off for now, and he would then be busy with his orcharding and irrigation work during the summer. He had not yet thought about what other public roles or opportunities he might pursue, but in the meantime was hoping to do some more overseas travel with his wife Bernie.

Mr McPherson, who received 1062 votes in the mayoral contest and was the highest-polling Alexandra councillor, with 1585 votes, said he was also disappointed with the result.

He was flattered by the support he received as a councillor and for his Alexandra Blossom Festival event management work, but frustrated that “the community seems to think I can do one thing but not the other”.

But he was looking forward to continuing to be a “strong voice on council”, and said it would be “business as usual” for him as a councillor and event manager.

There are several new faces on the council and community boards. They include two new councillors on the CODC, Lynley Claridge (Alexandra ward) and Victoria Bonham (Earnscleugh-Manuherikia, unopposed).

There was no election for the Earnscleugh-Manuherikia, Cromwell, Teviot Valley and Maniototo wards.

CENTRAL OTAGO DISTRICT COUNCIL:

Mayor: Tim Cadogan

Alexandra ward: Lynley Claridge, Martin McPherson, Barrie Wills

Earnscleugh-Manuherikia ward: Victoria Bonham, Malcolm Topliss

Cromwell ward: Shirley Calvert, Neil Gillespie, Nigel McKinlay

Teviot Valley ward: Stephen Jeffery

Maniototo ward: Stu Duncan

VINCENT COMMUNITY BOARD

Alexandra ward: Brian Fitzgerald, Claire Goudie, Sharleen Stirling-Lindsay

Earnscleugh-Manuherikia ward: James Armstrong, Russell Garbutt

CROMWELL COMMUNITY BOARD

Annabel Blaikie, Robin Dicey, Anna Harrison, Werner Murray

TEVIOT VALLEY COMMUNITY BOARD

Sally Feinerman, Raymond Gunn, Cliff Parker, John Pritchard

MANIOTOTO COMMUNITY BOARD

Sue Evans, Robert Hazlett, Duncan Helm, Sue Umbers