Time to examine the merits of term limits?
Could term limits for local councillors may be a way to bring fresh thinking into local government?
This morning's DominionPost covers our research to identify New Zealand’s longest-serving local-body politicians.
New Zealand's longest-serving councillor is on track to notch up half a century in public office – provided voters give him the tick once again this year.
Grey District Council deputy mayor Doug Truman, 76, was first elected to a local authority in 1968, and plans to run for another three-year term in October's local body elections.
His 48 years in office to date make him by far the country's longest-serving councillor, according to information compiled by the Taxpayers' Union.
We are quite surprised by the variations in these figures. For example, Doug Truman, who sits on the Grey District Council, has served as an elected official for 48 years whereas in the neighbouring Westland District Council, the longest serving Councillor has served for only 7 years.
Whilst we all recognise the need for organisations to have long-standing personnel with institutional knowledge, we think these figures suggest that it is timely to look at implementing term limits at local councils.
There are obviously huge advantages, in name recognition for example, in being an incumbent at local body elections. This means it can be hard for fresh blood to get on a council, even if they are better qualified than an incumbent. We think the Local Government Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga should consider whether term limits would improve local government decision making.
If you’ve been on a council for 6 terms – 18 years – and you haven’t yet achieved what you set out to, it seems unlikely that you will do it by staying on Council for another 18 years.
While no one would criticise Mr Truman for his 48 years of service, we can't help but note that when he was first elected to a council in 1968, man hadn't yet landed on the moon.
Name of councillor(s)
|Ashburton District Council||Rod Beavan||21|
|Auckland Council||Penny Hulse||24|
|Bay of Plenty Regional Council||John Cronin||18|
|Buller District Council||Graeme Neylon||24|
|Central Hawke's Bay District Council||Mark Williams||16|
|Central Otago District Council||Tony Lepper||27|
|Christchurch City Council||Vicki Buck||26|
|Clutha District Council||Crs Cadogan, Anderson, Cochrane, Vollweiler||15|
|Dunedin City Council||John Bezett||30|
|Far North District Council||Ann Court||12|
|Gisborne District Council||Crs Foon, Burdett, Bauld, Davidson||18|
|Gore District Council||Cliff Bolger||18|
|Greater Wellington Regional Council||Chris Laidlaw and Sandra Greig||18|
|Grey District Council||Doug Truman||48|
|Hastings District Council||Cynthia Bowers and Lawrence Yule||21|
|Hauraki District Council||John Tregidga||33|
|Hawke's Bay Regional Council||Christine Helen Scott||15|
|Horizons Regional Council||Lindsay Burnell||27|
|Horowhenua District Council||Brendan Duffy||18|
|Hurunui District Council||Winton Dalley, Vince Daley||12|
|Hutt City Council||Cr Cousins||33|
|Invercargill City Council||Neil Boniface||36|
|Kaikoura District Council||John Diver||18|
|Kapiti Coast District Council||Diane Ammundsen||30|
|Kawerau District Council||Malcolm Campbell||21|
|Mackenzie District Council||Evan Williams||12|
|Manawatu District Council||Barbara Cameron||12|
|Marlborough District Council||Graeme Barsanti||27|
|Masterton District Council||Chris Peterson||21|
|Matamata-Piako District Council||Robert McGrail||19|
|Napier City Council||Mark Herbert||18|
|Nelson City Council||Paul Matheson||21|
|New Plymouth District Council||Heather Dodunski||24|
|Northland Regional Council||Craig Brown||15|
|Opotiki District Council||John Forbes||15|
|Otago Regional Council||Louise Croot||27|
|Otorohanga District Council||Deborah Pilkington||11|
|Palmerston North City Council||Jim Jefferies||18|
|Porirua City Council||John Burke||30|
|Queenstown Lakes District Council||Lyal Cocks||12|
|Rangitikei District Council||Lynne Sheridan||15|
|Ruapehu District Council||Graeme Cosford||30|
|Selwyn District Council||Malcolm Lyall||24|
|South Taranaki District Council||Ross Dunlop||30|
|South Waikato District Council||Neil Sinclair||26|
|South Wairarapa District Council||Vivien Napier||21|
|Southland District Council||Brian Dillon||18|
|Stratford District Council||Robin Vickers and Roger Hignett||24|
|Taranaki Regional Council||David Lean||27|
|Tararua District Council||Crs W H Keltie and D A Roberts||15|
|Tasman District Council||Tim King, Trevor Norriss||18|
|Taupo District Council||Barry Hickling||12|
|Tauranga City Council||Stuart Crosby||30|
|Thames-Coromandel District Council||Glenn Leach||12|
|Timaru District Council||Richard Lyon||21|
|Upper Hutt City Council||John Gwilliam||12|
|Waikato District Council||Rob Maguire and Graeme Tait||27|
|Waikato Regional Council||Lois Livingston||21|
|Waimakariri District Council||David Ayers||30|
|Waimate District Council||Peter McIlraith||12|
|Waipa District Council||Grahame Webber and Bruce Thomas||15|
|Wairoa District Council||Denise Eaglesome||12|
|Waitaki District Council||Hopkins and Garvan||9|
|Wellington City Council||Helene Richie||30|
|West Coast Regional Council||Peter Ewen||12|
|Westland District Council||James Howard Butzbach||7|
|Whakatane District Council||Russell Orr||12|
|Whanganui District Council||Sue Westwood||31|
|Whangarei District Council||Phil Halse||23|
Six councils: Carterton District Council; Hamilton City Council; Rotorua District Council; Southland Regional Council; Waitomo District Council; and Western Bay of Plenty District Council, refused to provide the information.