THE week after the Redland City Council election, the front page headline of this newspaper was "A new era". That is certainly correct, but equally, the headline could have been "A different era". In 2016, we will be able to say if it was "A better era".
The various elements which will influence, guide, and underpin the everyday operation of this council are those that are separate from the issues and policy announcements of the election campaign. By council, here, it is meant one mayor and 10 councillors not the bureaucracy.
Mayor Karen Williams had eight years as a councillor before this election. This council has six new faces, one returning face, combined with four councillors from the last regime, including the new mayor. Three of the experienced councillors did not support the new mayor at the election while not all of the newly elected councillors indicated support for the her during the campaign. A number of the councillors have family connections with councillors from previous councils.
The outcome - because of these interconnections, previous council experience, and bitterness of the election campaign - is hard to predict but it is likely the machinations of this new council will be tracked to some, if not all, of the dynamics mentioned.
Given that all councillors would have claimed to be independent during the election campaign, the outcome of any vote in council cannot be guaranteed to be in favour of Mayor Williams.
She is entitled to argue that with 70 per cent support in the election, she has a mandate to implement the policies she took to the people of the Redlands. Under our system of local government, the mayor has only one standard vote. What then is the responsibility of the councillors? Should they ensure Cr Williams' major policy planks are adopted?
The challenge for Mayor Williams will be to manage those differences and show the leadership necessary to harness the talent and energies of all councillors to build a team whose single focus is the betterment of the Redlands and its citizens.
This will require Cr Williams to be inclusive in her decision making and for her opponents to commit to the same degree of cooperation. The city cannot afford to have the division that was evident in the last two councils. If the councillors are true independents they will put aside any entrenched differences. If not, let them set up formal alliances, groups or parties and put their case for election as a team.