The woman who wishes she was mayor

Wellington.Scoop
Raewyn Bleakley seems to wish that she was the mayor. This has been obvious in eight of her (many) recent press releases, and is most obvious in her extraordinarily dictatorial article today in the DomPost.

She’s chief executive officer of the Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce, and she keeps her viewpoint narrow. She instructs the re-elected mayor that the city must have new businesses, more jobs, and more growth. She wants rates for businesses to be further reduced. She wants city assets to be sold. She sees no problems with the Spine Study. And of course she sees no problems with the flyover. But she sees other problems, though they are selective ones.

In today’s DomPost article, she claims that “confidence has taken a knock,” and ignores her own survey in which the Chamber’s members report that business confidence has taken a sharp upturn. She also ignores the recent ANZ survey which reports that Wellington has held its lead as “the confidence capital” and small firms are preparing to take on more staff and lift investment for an expected uplift in business activity. And she’s forgotten the MYOB survey which reports that the Wellington City Council is the most successful in the country for supporting local businesses.

Instead she chooses to quote an unspecified “recent economic survey” which she says shows only six per cent of households are expecting good economic times. It’s the only mention of households in an article that otherwise focuses solely on business interests.

She demands that the council enhance its relationship with central government. “Not engaging is not an option,” writes Raewyn Bleakley this morning, choosing to forget the statement by the Prime Minister that he sees mayor Celia Wade-Brown as often as he sees Auckland’s Mayor Len Brown and “we’ve worked very effectively with her.”

In today’s DomPost article, Raewyn Bleakley expands on her fierce weekend press release, in which she tells Celia Wade-Brown that the Chamber will be holding her to her promises. She congratulates the winner, but it’s a grudging message, as she says the mayor was re-elected “despite a number of criticisms levelled at the council over the past three years.” It’s obvious that this isn’t the result that the Chamber was hoping for.

It’s also obvious why Celia Wade-Brown was elected as mayor for a second term – because she champions a wider and more inclusive range of issues than the narrow ones of the Chamber of Commerce.

In her victory speech on Saturday night, the mayor spoke of job growth and population growth but she also spoke about warm dry affordable housing, affordable public transport, improving cycling facilities, the return of native wildlife, celebrating arts successes, centres of excellence as an attraction for students, and of course the living wage. She doesn’t want traffic growth to overwhelm our sense of place. She recognises Wellington’s built and natural environments as beautiful and special.

She talks about the need for a significant and sustainable heritage fund, on which she says work is advanced. She agrees that the council can work better with central government and businesses, but adds: “We must also work even better with … residents, volunteers, social services and education.”

Everyone counts, says Celia Wade-Brown, beginning her second term as mayor of Wellington. It’s a message which appeals to many more people than the narrow view of Raewyn Bleakley.

 

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