In a vote largely for the status quo, Calum MacLeod, Quentin Smith and Niamh Shaw were voted onto Queenstown Lakes District Council as Wānaka ward members.
[Insert Scottish accent] “Humbled! Honoured! Elated! Enthusiastic!” was MacLeod’s effervescent response whilst the more measured Smith said, “I am very pleased to achieve such a strong result in the election. It is humbling to receive such strong validation from the community for the work I do around the council table.” Shaw’s response was [insert Irish accent] “I'm still shell-shocked! But I'm so chuffed to have been granted such a vote of confidence, and I'm intent on honouring my commitment to clearly and firmly advocate for my community.”
The three councillors have slightly different priorities as they move forward: For Smith, “Probably the most imminent will be the commencement of the spatial plan which will be a significant undertaking. Along with ensuring the delivery of an ambitious ten-year plan as well as adding significant transport investment in Wānaka.”
MacLeod lists ten items from the draft climate change plan, to the social and economic impact assessments for our airports, the lakefront development plans, to water and waste management. Shaw responded, “This campaign has highlighted the general dissatisfaction with how we are informed, engaged and consulted. Most people have busy lives and just want to trust that the council will take care of us. Improved communications, clear explanation of process and procedure, sincere two-way engagement and appropriate consultation would go a long way towards restoring that trust.”
In an election where proposed airport development had a high profile, the results show it had less of an effect than envisaged. “[The airport] is important. It is vital. It is, however, one facet — along with climate change, infrastructure, parking, Project Pure upgrade, Hāwea and Cardrona wastewater treatment solutions, stormwater, Luggate Hall, roading, the active transport network, the current National Policy Statements on Urban Development, freshwater, and productive lands, the lack of sports grounds, housing affordability ... ... ... !” said MacLeod. “To my mind, getting some clarity around the Wānaka airport expansion is a priority as the most crucial short-term issue for the Upper Clutha region and surrounds. However, I was pleased that the discussion around the airport informed less tangible but no less important long-term issues such as the environment and climate change, infrastructure and growth,” said Shaw.
The role of deputy mayor is still undecided. MacLeod said, “I would be honoured to take on this role again. I would not be stressed if it went to someone else. I am enthusiastic to fulfil any role required of me. I would love to chair a committee of council — preferably infrastructure.” Smith answered laconically, “probably” when asked if he would take the role. Mayor Boult has said he foresees that the deputy mayoral role will be chosen from this side of the Crown Range so Wānaka will have to wait and see whom he chooses.