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"Pure Speculation, But......"

Penny Hulse appears to be on the verge of being dumped by as Deputy Mayor in Auckland, and has already indicated rather high self-regard related to her performance following on Brown’s dalliance – she claims responsibility for ushering in both the Auckland and Unitary Plans, amongst other achievements. Penny is not held in high regard by a number of councillors who she has apparently brushed up the wrong way, frequently.

It does give rise to speculation regarding our own deputy that Mayor Sandra is rightly taking her time appointing. I have no doubt that she is interviewing councillors individually to assess their appropriate roles in the new Council, and that she will probably announce her choices for chair positions, and the Deputy at or before the first meeting on 26 November.

There are a number of paradigms that she will no doubt be considering – background, geography, experience and trustworthiness, amongst others. There are a number of drones who I would write off for these positions without further ado, but although Sandra’s body language during the last Council gave some indication of her preferences, she has made clear that no-one is out of contention.

Nevertheless, Stephen Bosman's article in the Informer on 12 October referring to the fact that six of the eight elected had supported the other Mayoral candidate - Peter French  is indicative of an expectation out there that 'she will toe the line.' Messrs McLean and Fox  will no doubt feel that they are in a strong position to determine policy, and any denial of a 'Team,' or 'Ticket' approach to the election is pure fiction. It remains to be seen whether the 'Team' will adopt a 'Ticket' voting approach.  It is reported that they have already held a 'Strategy Meeting' that does not auger well for the immediate future. Electors may live to regret having so blindly put this bunch so clearly in the 'box-seat.' 

Sandra on the other hand appears to have made a point of healing relationships with those two most difficult irritants – McLean and Fox, and is no tyro when it comes to handling difficult opponents. She may well be looking closely at Terry Walker, who reportedly performed very well on the Whangamata Board for deputy. He is well qualified, personable, unlikely to lead any ‘revolt,’ and is not part of the 'Team.' Tony Brljevich is also well placed, and likewise 'independent' – he is a long-time supporter of Sandra’s and stayed well out the criticism directed at her by McLean and Fox during the last few months. 

There appears no-one from Thames with any ability for the roles she is considering – certainly Strat Peter’s chairmanship skills are lacking for the judicial role where they are publicly displayed on a regular basis. Sally Christie may be in the mix, but has not had a particularly good relationship with Sandra in the past from what I understand. She is so long out of the Council loop that she is likely in any case to need 'familiarisation.' Long-standing (12 years!) member Bartley will not be any mix that I, or anyone else can imagine.

My pick is either Walker or Brljevich for deputy, McLean for chair infrastructure, and Fox for audit, with a caveat related to 'upping performance.' Sandra may decide to take judicial herself, or else appoint Brljevich should she opt for Walker as deputy. Sandra was never well disposed towards the need for a Policy Committee, which she chaired, and will almost certainly dump economic development. But she definitely wants a stronger hand in planning.

She may wish to establish planning as a separate committee role, particularly with the number of Environment Court appeals over the District Plan. On the other hand, she could well combine it with infrastructure which appeared underworked during the previous Council, but only if she feels that she can trust McLean – not a given!

All of this is pure speculation, but one thing is sure – Sandra will keep her cards very close to her chest until she is ready. I wish her all the best with her deliberations – this is one chance she has as a new Mayor to establish loyalty, and competence in areas where it has been lacking in the past.


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