Iron Lady vows to zip it well, a bit

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Queenstown’s new mayor Vanessa van Uden admits she’s got some relationship-building to do following three years as an outspoken councillor. 

But the district’s first female mayor promises she’ll remain opinionated on values central to her campaign, which she believes helped her win convincingly with 5087 votes at last weekend’s local body elections. 

Van Uden, 43, has often voiced her concern on ballooning council debt, spending money on out-of-town consultants, transparency and rates increases during her first term as a Queenstown Lakes District councillor. 

Van Uden’s also complained about there being an “A team” and a “B team” around the decision-making table – but she insists under her up-coming tenure as mayor the council will be all-inclusive. 

“For the last three years I’ve been very outspoken and I’ve got to be able to balance that. When I’ve believed in things I’m very much part of the team, but I think I’ve been quite clear about the things I’m particularly passionate about. 

“Therefore, there is some relationship-building work to be done.” 

Van Uden says she gets on well with QLDC boss Debra Lawson – “I believe in her” – and her immediate plans are to mobilise her incumbent and new councillors. 

However, she’s mindful that now she’s mayor, there’s a “whole different level of what I’ve got to represent in the community”. 

“While the opportunities to be outspoken and the lone voice may change, I’ve now got the opportunity to influence what’s put in front of people so that there doesn’t need to be that outspokenness,” Van Uden says. 

“I want to make it far more of a team approach and to change the values and vision of the council and how we deliver the work in a positive way, but still remain true to what I believe in.”