Mayor Odey keeps his foot on the gas

NEW MAYOR: Damon Odey has faced a steep learning curve.
NEW MAYOR: Damon Odey has faced a steep learning curve.

After a term as a councillor eyeing up the top job, Damon Odey is now in it.

At the start he wasn't sure when to wear his mayoral chains. "I would ask the PA, ‘do I wear a necklace today or not?' " he explained.

His normal day used to be walking the dog, taking the kids to school, going for a coffee and remotely taking calls from his business interests.

"I had a pretty good life, I was even getting old enough to start think about joining a golf club.

"Now I have to get up a lot earlier to walk the dog and my wife quite often takes the kids to school. You have days when it's meeting to meeting and appointment to appointment dealing with issues, then other days when you have time. The kids have definitely noticed my absence in the evenings and the weekends."

The first day he went into the office he was at a bit of a loss.

"I came into the office on the Monday and there was just a desk with a computer on it and no list of chores. It was a steep learning curve.

"Then I went to new mayor school. Around the country there were 22 new mayors elected. Some were new mayors walking in green, having not been a councillor before. That would be very overwhelming; at least I had one term under my belt."

He has loved getting out into the community. "As a councillor I found out about a lot of community groups but as mayor I have found out about a lot more of these organisations that keep the community running.

"It's the old story, you need to be prepare and do your homework. Before I turn up at an event I find out everything I can about the organisation. I am always blown away by the work they do, and most of it voluntary."

He has also had calls and letters from the public. "You get letters with a bit of advice. Sometimes you get a bit of a chuckle but most are from people with a genuine interest and a concern, and we can't fix it if you don't tell us."

He had contacted outgoing mayor Janie Annear with queries in his first month in the big job. "She was great and said to put my own spin on it as it was my role now."

Overall he is excited about the term ahead and about leading the district. "My campaign was Timaru is doing great and all we need to do is keep the foot on the gas, so that's what we will do."

The Timaru Herald