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.
So after weeks of no council business over Christmas and New Year this last week has included lots of interesting council business.
Saturday was an all day strategic planning workshop. As part of this we heard from the directors about the things we can expect to come up in the coming year or two.
We also found out a little more about the proposed changes to the Local Government Act.
I had already done some research into the introduction of an engagement policy as part of the significance policy as I see this as an opportunity for me to bring my ideas around community engagement to the council table.
I feel strongly about this as this was the basis of my campaign but I am well aware that change in council takes time.
Rest assured that I will continually wave the flag for community engagement throughout my council term and I will keep you up to date on progress - and there may be news soon!
On that note I see that my latest rates bill includes a newsletter including all councillors pictures and contact details.
If anyone would like to talk to me then please send me an email or give me a ring and I would be happy to chat.
I would also like to provide a regular opportunity for people to chat with me and this carries over from my campaign where I had a couch and a sign saying 'have a seat, have a say.'
So on the first Tuesday of each month (February 4) I will be at the Pyramid on Gala Cafe located in the Southland Museum and Art Gallery from 1-3pm and I would welcome people to come and meet with me there.
You could book a time to meet with me or you could just pop in.
My next council duty was on Monday when we had a budget workshop.
This was incredibly useful as each department of the council presented their budget for the coming year (the council year runs 1 July - 30 June), explained any increases and let us know about anything that might be coming up in the near future. It also provided an opportunity for us to ask questions and raise issues.
And then on Tuesday we had our first full council meeting for 2014.
I have been known to be a little impatient and I have to say I am glad that we are finally into the meeting cycle and the new calendar year of council business.
It is also time for a confession.
Up until Tuesday's meeting I had attended a number of meetings. I had chosen to watch, listen and learn at those meetings. At Tuesday's full council meeting I spoke during the meeting for the first time. It was a little nerve racking but I have done it!
One of the other councillors gave me a hard time (in a very friendly way) about having finally spoken. I will tell you what I told him. My mother tells me that I was talking in sentences by the time I was a one-year-old.
She also tells me that since I started talking I haven't stopped. I think I have finished with my time of watching, listening and learning in silence, now it is time to speak up and start doing things.
Meanwhile, while all of this has been happening school is back for 2014 and I have one son starting his first year at college and the other starting his last year.
This year will be a bit of a change for everyone in our family I think including my husband who is going to have to get used to cooking tea more often.
But I am excited by the change and the challenge and am grateful to all the people who have encouraged me and have been inspiring examples in their own right.
Welcome to 2014 everyone!
- The Southland Times
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