Tasman district mayor Richard Kempthorne with new women councillors, from left, Sue Brown, Anne Turley and Dana Wensley. Photo: SImon Bloomberg

New women councillors get to work

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The three new women on the Tasman District Council are excited about bringing their “feminine” viewpoint and more diversity to the table but say one of their main goals is to “maintain community involvement and transparency” in council’s decision-making.

Anne Turley, Sue Brown and Dana Wensley all attended the inaugural council meeting in Richmond last week, joining other newcomers Kit Maling, Trevor Tuffnell, Paul Hawkes, David Ogilvie and Dean McNamara.

Although the meeting was largely ceremonial, Dana contributed to one the new council’s first decisions by instigating a change in council’s quorum for subcommittees from two members to two elected members.

Dana says that change will help maintain “transparency and community involvement” in council decision-making because elected members can be held accountable by ratepayers.

Sue and Anne also consider maintaining transparency and community involvement is critical for councillors with Sue saying “we need to make sure we listen to the community and give them opportunities to come forward with their viewpoints”.

“We need to make sure we understand exactly what the community feels on all issues,” Sue says. “Sometimes we can get trapped by a loud, vocal viewpoint that is a minority so we have to be careful to avoid that.”

Although it is a new-look council, Anne says the key issues facing councillors this term remain unchanged.

“The district’s water supply and its funding is one of the big challenges for this council,” Anne says. “We also need to maintain the on-going balance of rates and services.”

Sue says the election of three women on council has increased its diversity “which is good for any group”.

However, Sue says they hope to add a lot more to council than diversity.

“I think, throughout the campaign, people were saying it would be nice to have female input on the council but I don’t think people voted for us because we are women. I think they voted for us because of what we can bring to council.”

Mayor Richard Kempthorne recommended Tim King as deputy mayor at the meeting and councillors unanimously supported that recommendation. Tim has been deputy mayor since 2001.

The next full council meeting is in Richmond this Thursday.