Holding on to idealism

Last updated 13:44 18/12/2013
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JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
Invercargill City Councillor Rebecca Amundsen.

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OPINION: For the next 100 days southlandtimes.co.nz will follow newly elected Invercargill City Councillor Rebecca Amundsen.

She's not an unfamiliar face to people  who live in Glengarry, or those who voted for her.

She's a mother, a landlord, a project leader and now a city councillor.

But this isn't just our project, it's yours too.

Get involved by posting comments, asking questions and answering polls each week as we follow Rebecca's first days in office.

Each week Rebecca will also write about her council musings.

This week I was asked by my friendly meter reader if I had lost my idealism yet. 

Only eight weeks into the role as Invercargill City councillor and I certainly hope not! And I will say right now that I do not intend to. (And I have put a few measures in place to ensure this does not happen.) 

The meter reader also questioned whether someone should be on the council if they have lost their idealism.

As a generally idealistic and optimistic person I would say no but I do think you need a certain amount of realism to go with that idealism.

Last week was the full council meeting for 2013 and only the second one of this term. 

Initially the meeting seemed like it was going to be over fairly quickly but a few curly issues cropped up that resulted in considerable discussion.

I have found it interesting to listen to these discussions to date and look forward to getting involved in them in the new year.

The Financial Governance workshop I attended in Christchurch hosted by Local Government NZ was well worth it and I am confident I now have a good grasp of how to understand the financial information I will receive as a councillor. Thank goodness.

I should also report that I have given my first council-related speech. 

Last Friday the councillors on the Urban Rejuvenation Committee attended a meeting with the Glengarry volunteers and South Alive volunteers.

At the South Alive meeting I was given the privilege of thanking them for their hard work throughout the year.

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I spoke about the new dog park which I am a near neighbour of and commented on how popular it was - on nice days I have seen up to 10 dogs and their owners there.

I went on to say that the difference they were making for South Invercargill was obvious but that I also thought it was making a difference for the whole city as the work they were doing showed everyone how to get involved in their community and what a difference that can make. I certainly believe it will encourage and empower others.

This made me wonder what people's first council related experiences were? I recall that when I was about 15 I told a friend's mother that I wanted to be the first female mayor of Wanganui (that is where I lived at that time).

On reflection I am sure I had no idea what the role of the mayor really was.

And the only explanation I can think of for why I said this was because I was pretty bossy (and still am if you ask my family) and thought what would be better than bossing around a whole town.

In fact I had no real understanding of council until coming to Invercargill where I eventually became a home owner and had to pay rates and then got involved in community activities in Glengarry and had to start working with the council. 

So I am interested to know what was your first experience or dealing with the council?

Was it positive or a difficult experience? And what was the catalyst for that experience? Post a comment and let me know.

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