Vicki Buck safe choice for deputy

POSSIBLY IMPOSSIBLE: Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck resolves to have one photo taken this year where her mouth is closed.
POSSIBLY IMPOSSIBLE: Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck resolves to have one photo taken this year where her mouth is closed.

In Vicki Buck, the deputy mayoralty of Christchurch is in safe and experienced hands but her selection does expose the lack of real choice Lianne Dalziel had.

Only four councillors were returned to office but none would have been a politically palatable pick.

Enter Buck - a former mayor who was hugely popular in her day and then after 15 years out of politics returned like she had never been away, enjoying the strongest support of any council candidate at this month's local body elections.

Buck is smart, respected and, vitally, has the implicit trust of Dalziel. The pair have known each other for years and share many similar views.

There will almost be a "Camp Mother" feel to the new job description of deputy mayor.

Buck will oversee all the standing committees and act as an adviser to the predominantly inexperienced council. She has been there, done that and her wealth of knowledge, experience, broad range of contacts and sheer political mana will add, rather than detract, from Dalziel's almost frenzied push for a new type of council.

Whereas former deputy mayor Ngaire Button was seen as a lap- dog to Bob Parker, the relationship between Dalziel and Buck, at first blush, appears to be one of mutual respect where both can express their opinions yet are on the same page.

So while Buck was the safe choice, there weren't too many other options.

Johanson and Livingstone, with their strong Labour roots and eastern suburbs presence, were obviously no-gos.

Paul Lonsdale, who challenged Dalziel for the mayoralty, wanted it. He does have strong ties to the business community and comes from the other side of the political spectrum but being a first-term councillor was always going to count against him.

Jimmy Chen is a solid councillor but English is not his first language and this would affect public speaking required of the deputy.

There are big things hoped from newcomer Raf Manji but his financial nous was clearly needed to chair the finance committee so that ruled him out.

Jamie Gough has a council term under his belt but is still very young.

Ironically, Dalziel's original choice for a running mate and likely deputy was 24-year-old Sam Johnson, the founder of the Student Volunteer Army.

The rest of the field are all newbies and it would have been unfair to give any of them that kind of responsibility so soon.

Dalziel went for a trusted, experienced ally.

In the end, the choice was a simple one.

The Press