Five women elected to Invercargill City Council

Women councillors on the Invercargill City Council, 2016-2018.
FAIRFAX NZ

Women councillors on the Invercargill City Council, 2016-2018.

Five women have been elected to the Invercargill City Council - prompting some to call it the end of the long-bemoaned old boys' club. 

Crs Karen Arnold and Rebecca Amundsen have been re-elected. Lesley Soper, Toni Biddle and Alex Crackett have been elected as new councillors. 

Crackett said it was "extremely positive" to have five female councillors on the city council. 

"I think it is an accurate representation of our community if we can have women in strong leadership positions." 

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Crackett said she was "over the moon" to be elected. 

Amundsen, who had long advocated for more women on the council, said she was not expecting to have five elected. 

In the previous council term there had only been two women at the council table, Amundsen and Cr Karen Arnold. 

"It's going to bring a new way of thinking about things. That's going to be an asset to the council." 

Amundsen said having more women on the council was all about balance. 

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Women represented half the city's population, and if the council were to represent the city then more women were needed, Amundsen said. 

Amundsen was also happy that she was no longer the youngest city councillor. Crackett would be the youngest at age 26. 

Cr Karen Arnold said she was thrilled to be back at the council table. 

Arnold campaigned on a culture change at the council. 

"Obviously there will be a change round the council table. Now the old boys' network will not have a grip on council affairs, because we've got a great group of women." 

Arnold said she had enjoyed working with the previous council but said the incoming councillors would be a better representation of the city. 

Toni Biddle said people were excited there were new faces and more women on the council. 

"It just brings more diversity. I don't think we had a big representation with two [women on the council]," Biddle said. 

The incoming council, with experience, youth and more women, looked "really strong", she said. 

Biddle said she loved the women who had been elected because she believed they were all "movers and shakers" in their own way, and would bring a strong presence to the council. 

Lesley Soper said one thing the council had needed was a better gender balance, and she was delighted. 

"Invercargill has certainly taken leaps and bounds in this election." 

Women on the council might identify a "family perspective" that men might miss, Soper said. 

There were many challenges for Invercargill ahead, she said. 

"Getting some Christmas lights that work would be a nice little touch." 

 - Stuff

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