North Otago has a new mayor.

After six years, incumbent Alan McLay has lost his gold chain and has to hand it over to the new guy. A proto-conservative with a good heart and good mediation skills is now lost to the district.

It will be interesting how the new guy handles a council with new faces but the same old challenges:

  • stagnating population
  • growing visitor numbers and their effects on the district’s infrastructure
  • compared to the rest of the country a significantly higher percentage of over 65-year-olds who tend to find local rates ill affordable
  • dealing with environmental concerns in a district that is rapidly filling up with dairy cows
  • a stroppy core of victorian rabble rousers who with charm and aplomb stir up the establishment
  • and, finally, a group of European residents who observe the whole thing, shaking their heads.

I, for one, welcome my new mayoral overlord from Palmerston, Alex Familton.

He’s got his work cut out for him.

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