Fierce debate over who should become Waiheke Local Board’s new chairperson is expected this Saturday.
The five newly elected local board members have not yet reached agreement about who should take the roles of chairperson and deputy chairperson, so the contest for the top jobs will be carried out at the board’s inaugural meeting at 3pm on 29 October at Ostend War Memorial Hall.
The new faces on the board, Bob Upchurch and Cath Handley, are tight lipped about whether they will stand for the board’s leadership roles.
The highest polling board candidate, Mr Upchurch, has previously said he was unsure whether he wants to take on the significant role of chairperson.
Ms Handley has said that she supports Mr Upchurch becoming the board chairperson and that they share similar concerns.
“My hope is that we can sort ourselves out prior to Saturday,” says Ms Handley.
Paul Walden, who was board chairperson from 2013 until the election earlier this month, is keen to return to the chairperson’s role.
This will be his third term on the board and he would like to return to the chair to bring important projects that previous boards have begun to fruition.
“I commit to giving my best to working together and embracing the new energy on the board and modifying my leadership style if required to ensure that the outcomes of the board represent the diversity of views.
“I would like to think I have been a good leader, and leading an elected board that is reliant on dysfunctional Auckland Council organisations is very challenging and puts a lot of pressure on board members,” he says.
John Meeuwsen will support Mr Walden becoming chairperson and is “relaxed” about who takes the deputy chair.
“Paul did a superb job in the first term and now has the know-how and mana with the wider group of elected members to do justice to the role,” says Mr Meeuwsen.
Shirin Brown, who has experience as a board member and deputy chairperson, will also put herself forward for the chairperson’s role.
“I have shown that I have the capacity to rise above and look for common ground, while keeping the community informed and being proactive in solving issues.
“We have swung from one polarised board to another and with a background in intercultural communication and facilitation skills, I hope we can bring the board together to get wins we can all share in.
“I favour a consensus decision-making process for the chair, where we land on a person we can agree on, rather than one side feeling like winners and the other side feeling disenfranchised,” says Ms Brown.
The board is expected to take a declaration, elect a chairperson and decide on a meeting schedule at the meeting on Saturday. • Rose Davis

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