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It’s been a great 12 years

By Adrienne Staples
Mayor of South Wairarapa

It’s 12 years since I was elected Mayor of South Wairarapa and as I am not seeking re-election in October, this will be my last column for the Times Age in that role.
It’s been a great 12 years and it is with some sadness that I say goodbye to the mayoral chains.
Being mayor of a rural district like South Wairarapa is a fabulous job with the good far outweighing the bad.
You do, however, have to be prepared to take the tough knocks on the chin, smile and come back for more as that is what leadership is all about.
On more than one occasion I’ve been asked “what does a mayor actually do” and the answer is simple.
A mayor must do everything they’re asked to do provided it doesn’t break the law or offend anyone. This does mean you must attend some meetings and functions that are not really of strong interest to you and often out of work hours or in the weekends.
The plus side is that you meet dedicated people and often get to learn new things. One challenge I absolutely love though is the huge variety of matters that a mayor may deal with in one day.
Regional transport, pensioner housing, water supply, town halls, parks, noise issues, dog control, family violence, grant funding, events, flood control, economic development and social issues may all cross your desk in any one day.
The interesting thing is that although many people think the mayor is the boss and can direct the council staff to do their bidding, this is simply not true.
Council staff are under the direction of the chief executive officer not the mayor.
The mayor’s ability to demand outcomes is practically nil. At the end of the day you have one vote on council, are limited by the statutory requirements and employment law.
Nevertheless there is the opportunity to influence outcomes but that requires support of the councillors who are all individuals capable of making up their own minds.
Looking back over the 12 years we’ve seen highs and lows. Notable in the highs were the Greytown Town Centre development, the Paschendaele Exhibition and more recently the Rimutaka re-enactment march. There were many, many more.
Heading the lows were the ugly, violent crimes that our community has had to endure and the closure of the key business Bouzaid and Ballaben resulting in many job losses.
Overall South Wairarapa is a fine district and the new elected members will inherit a council in excellent shape financially, with loyal, dedicated staff.
I’m looking forward to pursuing my passion for local government in different ways and watching Wairarapa development continue.
It’s been a privilege to share my opinions with readers through this column.

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