Mayor in demand

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By John Keast

Donna Favel’s phone won’t stop ringing.

This time it is CTV wanting an interview.

Done.

Earlier it was RNZ National.

Then Hoops on Hokonui.

During the RNZ interview, she was on with Tim Shadbolt, celebrating his eighth term as mayor.

Mrs Favel is beginning her first term – Ashburton’s first woman mayor, and, at 51 years and 10 months, the youngest.

So, with the vote hardly counted – Mrs Favel (preliminary) got 6187 to Angus McKay’s 4813 – her life has changed.

She is – or soon will be – the voice for Ashburton.

And she says it has grated with her during her time as a councillor to hear Ashburton mentioned in the national media for all the wrong reasons.

Mrs Favel aims to change that; to celebrate Ashburton’s successes.

She arrives with husband David, who admits it is his first visit to the council’s temporary chamber in the old county building – Angus McKay has already moved out of his office across at Baring Square west, but staff were doing some work there, hence the visit to a temporary office in the county building.

Over the weekend they managed to squeeze in a celebration for his 50th birthday, she called outgoing mayor Angus McKay and will get in touch with all successful and unsuccessful candidates.

She will also talk to successful candidates about aspirations and assess their various skillsets with a view to who may lead committees and, importantly, be her deputy.

Those decisions have yet to be made.

She will also go to Wellington to “mayor school” – official tips on the role.

For the moment, it is interviews – and coping with congratulations.

Mrs Favel apologises for being late – she wasn’t – because “I was stopped on the way here by people wanting to congratulate me”.

She said she had learned in her role as owner of the local cinema that there were different leadership styles – leading from the front, from the rear.

It was her plan to use a variety of styles in her leadership of the council – and to be neutral.

“No-one is bigger than the council as a whole. I want us to move together.”

There are early areas of interest, including, in no order, plans to clean up Wakanui beach, keeping weeds out of the Rangitata River, working with Incredible Edibles, the revitalisation of the CDB, Eastfield.

“I’m quite excited to have such a new diverse group on council. Each has a skillset. I’m quite keen to talk to the new council about vision for the CBD.

“Did I say thank you; that I will work hard?”

Yes.

Right, she said.