Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Local board’s fresh face keen to serve

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Damian Light is the only new face elected to the Howick Local Board. Photo supplied

Former United Future political party leader Damian Light is the only newcomer joining the membership of the incoming Howick Local Board.

He’s been elected to serve on the board representing the Botany subdivision.

Light replaces outgoing member Bob Wichman, who did not seek re-election at the Auckland Council elections on October 8.

There are nine seats on the board with three each for the three subdivisions of Botany, Howick, and Pakuranga.

Botany subdivision representatives Mike Turinsky and Peter Young were re-elected and are joined by Light.

John Spiller, Bo Burns, and Adele White retain their Howick subdivision seats.

In the Pakuranga subdivision Bruce Kendall, Katrina Bungard, and David Collings were all re-elected.

Light has been a keen observer of local politics for years and regularly attended the board’s business meetings when they were held in-person pre-Covid.

He says the most recent board, chaired by Adele White, was better at “getting on and getting things done”.

“It’s been a bit more directed than previous terms.

“They’ve been better this time at actually having things on their list so they can progress things.

“Obviously it was a bit of a struggle because they didn’t have much money due to issues with the council budget, so that was a bit of a challenge.”

During the campaign Light spoke out on his opposition to the Auckland Transport (AT) plan for the Eastern Busway to divert through Burswood as well as on delays to delivery of the Flat Bush Library and Community Centre.

He describes himself as “issues-based” and says he gets on well with the board’s other members.

Light plans to keep pushing for the Flat Bush Library and Community Centre to be delivered.

“It’s been in the local board plan for a while now and the issue is getting the money out of council.

“I’m definitely keen to continue to fight for that because I think it’s a project that needs to get done. Flat Bush has waited too long.”

And he wants to see if it’s possible to have the Eastern Busway’s Burswood diversion scrapped.

“That decision had been made … but it sounds like the new mayor Wayne Brown is going to shake things up at AT.

“AT talked up that it would be much faster to go through Burswood, which I don’t understand because how do you demolish 40 houses and that’s faster than using an existing roadway?

“I think if we’re going to do strategic projects, we should do them well and it’s worth getting them right.”

Light says he appreciates the support and confidence local voters showed in him and he’s looking forward to representing them.

“I’m hard working, I’m dedicated, I love living in Botany and I think it’s fantastic.

“It’s a very diverse community. I know voter turnout was very low and I understand that.

“People feel the council doesn’t connect or represent them.

“I look forward to helping represent the community but also talking to them to help them understand what’s going on and what we can do to make Botany everything it can be.”

Light also unsuccessfully stood for one of the two seats on the council’s governing body in the Howick ward, finishing fifth.

The new board will elect a chairperson and deputy chair when its members are sworn in later this month.

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