Convention holds us back, but Wellington wants to move forward

Back Jack Yan for MayorWe all expected someone to go on about ‘experience’ sooner or later when it came to my mayoral campaign. Mr Bertrand Brown, I thank you for raising it in the comments at the Stuff website. And this is a genuine thanks, not one of those BS ‘with respect’ ones, as you signal that it’s time to talk about this.
   As the sort of Kiwi who thinks of can-do before he thinks of can-don’t first, the ‘must have council experience’ argument is lost on me. Every industry I have been in, I’ve observed that conventional experience holds people back. Those who are forced to learn the ropes learn convention, and by the time they are in a position to have any say, they’ve forgotten what they were doing there in the first place.
   What Wellington City Council needs is not groupthink and croneyism, but real ideas. What “experience” has got us is where we are now: a capital playing catch-up. I reckon Mark Blumsky, a successful mayor with no council experience when elected, would agree with me.
   When I think about my Dad, he had no experience of being a husband till he married my Mum. He had no experience of being a father till I came along. And he did really well. Why? Because he’s a decent bloke, and he cares about his family.
   In Mark’s case, he had ideas for Wellington based on his experience in something very different to council: he was in retail. And he knew what the people of Wellington wanted because he was serving his customers on the shop floor every day. Most would probably regard Mark as having been a good mayor.
   In my case, I’ve been around the world enough times and served on enough boards, committees and advocacy groups to know that Wellington deserves a world-class technological infrastructure, a creative cluster, and environmental policies that lead, not trail, the rest of the world.
   This is partly why I am shortly off to Sweden, a country known for the sort of creative and environmental values we share, to promote Wellington, and to continue finding networks that we can tap in to from this city.
   Believe me, I do this with love for this city, because the idea of taking the temperature in Wellington and sticking a minus in front of it is not exactly the summer I originally had in mind. What keeps me going is the knowledge we have some fantastic things in Wellington to share and I’m excited to tell Malmö, Kristianstad, Stockholm and Göteborg about us.
   Wellington is current playing catch-up when it comes to wifi to Dunedin. We are even behind Swindon, England. Swindon, folks. I only know that Swindon is famous for Diana Dors, Melinda Messenger and Billie Piper.
   We shouldn’t be playing catch-up when we should lead.
   I’ve come from a world where I’ve had to create ventures from scratch and take them in to export markets. Therefore, I expect to make this city a great home for that creative, Kiwi can-do spirit.
   If we create more businesses, especially in the high-value creative and tech sectors, then we confront Wellington’s rising unemployment, create a greater rates’ base, and lessen the need to have any rates’ increases in the 2010–3 term. We can begin affording some of the environmental programmes we say we want, and fix our water leakage issues.
   You don’t get these ideas from being in council. You get these ideas from being connected to the rest of the city and listening, one on one, to what people want. That’s what I’m running on: the simple fact that I care about Wellingtonians and that I don’t see myself in some élite group separate from the rest of the city.
   I see the mayoralty as a job that is not about pandering to convention and favouritism. If we say we are a vibrant, different and world-class capital, then we should elect someone who thinks that way: outside the square, creatively and with big ideas that befit our hopes.

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3 thoughts on “Convention holds us back, but Wellington wants to move forward

  1. How very true. My friend Glyn quoted this as well on my Facebook—seems it strikes a chord! Albert Einstein was seldom wrong.

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