As I reflect on my experience as the youngest mayor in New Zealand, I can confidently say that it is a challenging yet rewarding position that demands a high level of responsibility.
To put it into a metaphor, it’s like walking into a boardroom meeting with strangers, having to work as a high performing team and knowing that the decisions made impact an entire community.
Often people ask me, “what is it like being a mayor?” and “is it what you expected it would be like?”
It’s difficult to describe the feeling of being accountable for the lives of the district and its people.
I imagine it’s what being a parent is like, but for an entire community.
The job is never-ending and ever-evolving.
What keeps me on my toes is the variety of projects that you are exposed to — my day can consist of reading reports about potholes on rural roads to then meetings about complex matters to find solutions to community disputes, followed by workshops about the future of hydrogen in New Zealand.
Each day is a new challenge and requires a unique approach.
One thing I’ve learned in my short time is to expect the unexpected.
Just when you think everything is under control, a new challenge arises.
Being mayor is not just about attending meetings and dealing with local issues.
It involves dealing with serious national matters such as natural disasters.
The recent Cyclone Gabrielle caused devastation in the North Island, and it was a reminder of the importance of being prepared for a civil defence emergency.
In such circumstances, I feel the weight of my responsibility as a leader and I am grateful for the support and co-operation of the community in coming together to help those in need.
Despite the challenges, working for the community is an immensely fulfilling experience that allows me to make a positive impact on the district and its people.
Although I may not have all the answers, I am fortunate to have a strong team of councillors and community members behind me.
Being a leader of the district is a rewarding job that demands hard work, dedication and an unwavering commitment to the community.
The job requires one to be accountable, responsible and willing to work with diverse members of the community.
It is a privilege to serve as mayor and make a positive impact on the district’s development.
I can’t wait for what the future brings.