Wellington Mayor Justin Lester’s relatively smooth ride as capital chief has hit some tremors over the appointment of his deputy.
It is understood that his decision to appoint a first-time councillor has “gone down like a lead balloon”.
Feedback this week from various councillors – who did not wish to be identified – point to a more difficult tenure for Lester, after an initially smooth and unified run of his council.
This week Jill Day, 38, who has been on Wellington City Council only since last October’s elections, took over the deputy-mayor mantle from Paul Eagle, who was elected as an MP.
Very unusual to appoint as Deputy Mayor someone who has been on the Council for only a year. Obvious that the only criteria was total loyalty to Lester.
Until now the once “toxic” council, as it was commonly known under former mayor Celia Wade-Brown’s leadership, had been putting on a united front – and it was genuine belief in the new mayor that held them together.
Now, however, it appears Lester and Day will face more opposition from their colleagues, and may find it harder to get votes to go their way.
Some councillors say they believe the appointment of the deputy mayor highlights Lester’s profile while overshadowing the city’s profile.
It is understood Lester has been trying to pass on some of the deputy’s duties to other councillors, who in turn are refusing to “pick up the slack”.
Can’t blame them.