Councillors cut but still running

Political writer GLENN CONWAY discovers life goes on for several newly minted "former" Christchurch city councillors.

They are the forgotten ones. Fired, retired or even worse, yesterday's news.

The recent local body elections in Christchurch saw a massive change of personnel at the city council - a new mayor and nine new councillors.

So, what has become of the (former) newsmakers?

Aaron Keown was trounced at the October elections.

The first-term councillor, known for his colourful and often entertaining ideas, came a distant fourth in the Shirley-Papanui ward, losing support for backing controversial council chief executive Tony Marryatt and former Mayor Bob Parker.

Soon after learning his political fate, Keown launched a tirade against voters and the media, saying he had been hindered by people actively targeting him by slashing tyres and ruining his billboards.

"The council has been elected on negativity. You will reap what you sow . . . it's a shame for the city," he said at the time.

This week, a quietly-spoken Keown gave one-word answers to questions, sounding every bit the politician taken down a peg or two.

Asked what he was up to these days, Keown muttered "a bit of other work" but declined to elaborate. Did he miss council?


More than a month on, what does he reflect on?

"Mixed feelings really. I started some good projects and I'm disappointed by the way it turned out. No doubt this [new council] will stall the recovery . . . but that's what 40 per cent of the population wanted," he said, in a slight dig at the low voter turnout.

Former Banks Peninsula ward councillor Claudia Reid moved into the Fendalton-Waimairi ward during the last term and contested that city seat last month.

Despite running with councillor Jamie Gough, Reid failed to attract enough support, coming a distant fourth. Gough was returned, polling well.

Reid did not respond to media queries just after the election but this week said she was "in a fine space".

Just back from a Sydney holiday, Reid was enjoying "not having my life and my days dominated by agendas and difficulties".

She planned some volunteer work on the coastal pathways project, which she believes will be "a stunning asset for the city", but had no other confirmed projects.

Former Riccarton-Wigram councillor Helen Broughton said she was not missing the job as councillor . . . yet.

The four-term councillor polled a lowly fifth in the ward election as former Christchurch mayor Vicki Buck staged a stunning political comeback after 15 years to poll highest in that and any other city ward.

She maintains some local government links, serving as deputy chair on the Riccarton-Wigram community board and claims the issues out there are keeping her very busy, to the point where she worked a 40-hour week last week.

Sue Wells, no shrinking violet during her time on council, was coy when asked what's she's up to now.

"I'm sure The Press have better things to do," she said firmly but politely when contacted this week.

It is understood she has been visiting other councils around the country as part of a tutorial for new councillors on the Resource Management Act - a piece of legislation she specialised in as a past long-term chair of the council's regulatory and planning committee.

Other former councillors, who left under their own steam, are enjoying life post-council.

Tim Carter, once touted as a possible mayoral candidate, is a first-time father after wife Ginny gave birth to son Max last month.

The family are focused on settling into their new Halswell home and Carter has plans to set up his own development company in the new year.

Former Christ Church Cathedral dean Peter Beck moved from religion to politics. Eighteen months later he decided to pull the pin.

Many predicted he would have been re-elected but fatigue and the workload of the job took its toll.

In an opinion piece in The Press last month he said he was going to take "a real break" for a few months. He will also be the priest in charge of an Auckland parish over the summer as he helps parishoners change to a new vicar.

"I will come to Christchurch regularly to make sure I keep in touch with what is going on.

"Then come March or thereabouts I will be back here and I will continue to work with and among the community groups I have been part of and especially to advocate for the east of our city."

Sally Buck stood down from representing the Fendalton- Waimairi ward but was elected to the ward's community board and, in a change of political pace, she also now sits on the Canterbury District Health Board.

Barry Corbett said he was "in a good space" although he had thoroughly enjoyed his 15 years on the council.

He was reluctant to outline exactly what occupied his days now, twice saying he was "taking things quiet" but "I've got a few things on". Corbett said he was not following the new council at all "having been there, done that".

Former deputy mayor Ngaire Button could not be reached for comment.

She was understood to be initially quite upset immediately after the election and was maintaining a low profile after she polled third highest but still more than 1100 votes behind her nearest rival, new councillor Pauline Cotter.

The Press