2012: How the aldermen rated

 Jeremy Ball: 8.5

 AT TIMES oblique and short on detail there's no doubt that deputy mayor Jeremy Ball is one of the Launceston City Council's best and brightest aldermen.

A strong community advocate, his Thespian background helps him drive home his conclusions and analysis during council meetings. 

But that chutzpah can come back to bite him, putting some of council's older hands offside. 

Managing relations with those at the council table will be key to his success and something he's worked on this year. 

Beyond the rhetoric there's plenty of ideas, such as the council tip shop, which after three years is beginning to emerge. 

He will continue to notch up achievements before making a bid for mayor and then the Legislative Council.  

 Hugh McKenzie: 4.5

 UNDERWHELMING may well describe Alderman McKenzie's first year at council. But beneath the surface Alderman McKenzie has been busying himself with learning the ins and outs of the council and forging relationships with key council staff. This could position him as an effective operator next year.

But there's the risk that if his strategy doesn't pay dividends, he's just blown a quarter of his time in office. And there's even less time until the next mayoral election, if he was interested. 

Alderman McKenzie has shown understandable frustration through the year with the myriad of strategies that seem to come before the council without making a tangible difference to ratepayers.  If he can change that and make those strategies mean something, he'll be going in the right direction. Importantly, he is well regarded by the other aldermen. 

 Jim Cox: 7.5   

 The former  Labor local government minister who returned to politics in 2011 has proven a wily operator on the Launceston City Council. Alderman's Cox's experience has allowed him to get things done through a knowledge of the council system. With a keen interest in roads he got himself on the council's street tree advisory group to put the kybosh on any more trees for Wellington Street. He also pushed for a Launceston road works reference group despite apparent opposition from within the council ranks.  

 Danny Gibson: 7.5 

 The young Turk has hit the ground running in his first year. His first big win was to have the council's event-funding cuts reversed and instead lock in an above-historical-average spending.  

 Whether this is a good thing for the council's long-term finances is one thing, but it certainly earned kudos for Alderman Gibson among Launceston's cultural community. A polished public speaker and a quick learner, Alderman Gibson was a good council-meeting performer during 2012, but will have to watch how he is viewed around the table. 

 Annette Waddle: 4.5  

 Known as the mayor of Mowbray, Alderman Waddle protects the interest of northern Launceston in almost tribal fashion. But her interests are not limited to just her patch, with her motion regarding mobile phone towers, admittedly sparked by one going up in Mowbray, making it all the way to the Australia local government conference. She was also the only alderman to notice the council had reversed its position on opt-in compulsory voting. However, her very frequent tendency to abstain from voting is not on and large point loser. 

 Albert van Zetten: 8

 Alderman van Zetten places great emphasis on the ``chairperson'' role of the city's mayor. And fair enough, that's what the legislation says. It's in this role where he gets the greatest credit - in steering what is a generally cohesive, corroborative, and affable aldermanic group, which in local government circles can be a rarity. However, it would be good to see him take on a more public activist role, particularly in his pet areas of social inclusion, because those who shout the loudest often get what they want. And that can be an important asset for a mayor running the North's biggest city against the backdrop of a Hobart centric government. 

 Rob Soward: 7

 A conviction politician who wears his heart on his sleeve and is an active council meeting participant. He's also, as he admits, polarising. This can work in his favour  or backfire and often leads to charges of being a populist. It may also have consequences for future mayor aspirations. Alderman Soward takes a strong interest in community issues, particularly education and  the social benefits of sport. He put forward more motions to council than any other alderman in 2012. 

 Tony Peck: 6

 Always an active proponent for development and business in Launceston, Alderman Peck also revelled in his role as chairman on of the Launceston Sister City Committee. Always pushing the benefits of international relationships Alderman Peck travelled to Launceston's sister city Ikeda in Japan and also made for a three-day trip to Indonesia. Meanwhile, back home he played host to delegates from Napa, California - another sister city. At times his enthusiasm for business risks overshadow other important factors in decision-making. 

 Robin McKendrick: 6.5

 Alderman McKendrick celebrated 10 years as head of the York Park and Inveresk Precinct Authority in 2012. 

His long memory of council issues helps bring context and experience to the debate, especially around planning, from which he rarely shies. Always one to get among the issue at hand, he's often the liveliest performer at council meetings. Although colleagues do sometimes question the relevance and length of his verbal contributions. 

His biggest contribution next year is likely to be ushering in the new planning scheme. 

 Ian Norton: 5

 Alderman Norton's best moment this year was organising the council's regional economic summit, where Erroll Stewart formally announced his push for a 20-storey tower.  His other big project has been pushing for a Launceston tram. Sadly, he let his own motion seeking support for the idea lapse at the council's last ordinary meeting for the year. When he speaks it's usually something worth listening to, so it would be good to hear a lot more from him in 2013.

 Rosemary Armitage: 6.5

 Strong-willed, energetic, stubborn and smart, Alderman Armitage is another of the council's best and brightest. A keen watcher on state government issues that affect the Launceston City Council, Alderman Armitage's usual focus is health. She also made a splash this year when she came out strongly against a possible move to capital valuations ratings. Unfortunately, Alderman Armitage was not as active around the council table as in previous years. Next year will be a big one for the MLC with a mayoral election and a potential law change they may see her have to choose between the council and the Legislative Council. 

  Ted Sands: 7 

 A council long-termer who will often pick up and run with a cause, Aldermen Sands pushed for more transparency in council deliberations this year. A bit of a slow start to 2012 quickly evaporated with a flurry of motions, causes and debates, which all point to Alderman Sands having a serious think about a mayoral run in 2013. 

Keenly interested in the Tamar River and flood issues, Alderman Sands again pushed for cheaper options to the $10 million concrete levee at Inveresk. This was considered, but not taken up by the Launceston Flood Authority. Alderman Sands was also pushing for a fair outcome for a business affected by compulsory  land acquisitions. 

Jeremy Ball

Jeremy Ball


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