Local Elections 2013
OPINION: Victorious mayoral candidate Lianne Dalziel addresses the citizens of Christchurch after Saturday's election result.
To the people of Christchurch,
thank you for honouring me with the privilege of leading Christchurch for the next three years as Mayor.
And thank you for the council you have elected to join me at the table - what a wonderful blend of skills, experience and networks that will now be focused on the future of Christchurch.
We have already met informally and we are united in our ambition to bring transparency and accountability to the fore. We will make a formidable team.
We know that we have been handed an awesome mandate: the mandate to take back our city and reclaim our democratic voice. But with the mandate comes responsibility. We get to do this once. We have to get it right.
The open letter to the incoming Mayor published in the Press on Saturday morning has started the ball rolling by inviting me to usher in a new era of transparency and a culture of openness.
I have been asked to report by December 1 about what we will do about fostering relationships with stakeholders and becoming customer focused; opening the books about the true extent of our financial situation (including insurance); opening up council debates and decision-making processes and ensuring there are ‘no surprises'.
I am absolutely committed to reporting back in that 50-day timeframe and have already set some of the processes in motion so that we can open up the books and provide the reassurance that Christchurch is demanding of its council.
Frankly I was embarrassed to be reminded of what was identified in Felicity Price's Communication Audit:
‘Most residents do not believe they are informed about the decisions council is making.'
‘When aware of council decisions, residents say they do not understand why council has made those decisions or what process led them there.'
The absence of frequent, structured and systematic engagement with the community has led many to view the council as isolated and a fortress.'
After the audit, council staff conducted research with a range of Christchurch people who apparently endorsed the need for a monthly delivered publication. I don't remember receiving Our Christchurch in my letterbox last month, but when I checked it on-line it seemed to miss the point of the audit. People want facts about their situation. They want follow up and solutions. Not a generalised glossy brochure. Things are going to have to change.
There has to be a better way of connecting people to the decision-making processes and this council is determined to achieve that. Democracy does not end the day you post your ballot paper. That's just the start.
On Saturday night I said that I wanted Christchurch to be the clean, green, safe, smart and accessible city that we all said we wanted when we joined in Share an Idea.
Share an Idea was the beginning of a process that was disrupted by the ‘business as usual' call for submissions on the draft plan, which was superseded by the government's 100 day blueprint.
I want to start my mayoralty where Share an Idea left off. To get there we need to make our council the pride of the city. It needs to be a high-performing team that gets things done.
We need to tell it how it is - no spin - just the plain and honest truth. We need to engage our diverse communities in co-creating our future as a whole city - not only the CBD but also the suburbs where we live, work and play.
We need to stand up for Christchurch.
We need to build strong partnerships with business, community and government.
We want future generations to be proud to call Christchurch home.
Four months ago, I said that I was confident that this could be done.
I was inspired by the story of the Crusaders. People forget they came last in the very first Super 12 competition back in 1996.
They rewrote their plan, they took risks, they invested in players from outside the region, as well as developing local talent, and they built up the infrastructure a professional team would need. They became a champion team.
They define themselves with these words: "An understated, ruthless pursuit of excellence; leaving nothing to chance, by attention to detail, courage under fire, innovation and risk taking."
That is the standard I will demand of myself along with each and every one of the councillors. We will create an unstoppable momentum as we build the newest city in the world.
My former electorate staff gave me a necklace as a farewell gift. It quotes Coco Chanel: "The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud."
We must have courage and we must be prepared to think for ourselves. We cannot be so afraid of making mistakes that we take no risks.
My necklace has three other words: community, leadership and resilience.
We will be a council that empowers community, offers leadership and builds the most resilient city in the world.
My first act as Mayor-elect tomorrow will be to sign off the application for Christchurch to become one of the Rockefeller Foundation 100 Resilient Cities - their centenary project designed to gift to the world the benefits of resilience and the strength in networks.
If we are successful we will receive assistance to develop our own resilience plan and we will be able to draw on the experience of the network to help our own recovery.
I am determined to live up to the expectations that have been set for me by the city that I will lead with pride with a strong, determined council at my side.
- © Fairfax NZ News