Simon Woolf stepping down from council with plea: Wellington politics 'needs to change'

ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF
Wellington City councillor Simon Woolf on the mental toll that council life takes on him and his colleagues. (First published in May 2021)

Wellington City councillor Simon Woolf is stepping down after three terms in office with a plea that his remaining colleagues clean up their acts.

Woolf has confirmed that he won't run for the Wellington City Council in the 2022 local body elections.

“This term has taken a heavy toll on me,” he said. “Councils need to enable people the opportunity to stand and represent their community.

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“The current council culture and environment makes a pathway into council difficult, and being on council even more difficult.

“It needs to change, with less party politics centred on the Beehive, and no more aggressive personality politics.

Wellington City councillor Simon Woolf has confirmed he won’t stand for re-election next year.
Ross Giblin/Stuff
Wellington City councillor Simon Woolf has confirmed he won’t stand for re-election next year.

“There needs to be a working environment where elected representatives can do what they were elected to do and make Wellington a great city.”

Woolf has previously talked openly about the mental struggles he had faced on the council, especially in the current term, which had been particularly rancorous with a clear divide between the Right and Left factions of council.

Woolf on Tuesday said he was going to leave his decision until after Christmas but made the call earlier after a private conversation was leaked to media.

Simon Woolf has talked openly about the stresses of office. Now he is leaving and pleading that his colleagues behave better.
Ross Giblin/Stuff
Simon Woolf has talked openly about the stresses of office. Now he is leaving and pleading that his colleagues behave better.

Woolf said he would now focus on his photography business and put efforts into causes he cared about, such as Diabetes New Zealand and Family Planning – both of which he was a life member of – and causes such as Wellington’s new children’s hospital.

“Indicating my intention now will give time to allow potential future candidates to do due diligence, prepare for a campaign, and seek guidance,” he said.

“I have never believed in lengthy terms for any elected office. There always needs to be new blood and new ideas for healthy organisations to succeed.”

The only council colleague he identified by name was Diane Calvert, “who is always prepared to represent Wellington’s constituents with courage, wisdom and fairness”. He also thanked family and friends – particularly his wife, Megan, and children Noah and Lily-Jane.

He said highlights during his three terms included supporting the Youth Council, championing the Terawhiti Wilf Glover Artificial Turf in Karori, helping ensure the funding for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, advocating for Island Bay residents over the cycleway debate, and promoting the new Conference and Exhibitions Centre.

“Most of all I am proud to have been the voice of many constituents, often for those who had no voice,” he said.