The long game

My latest Green Shoe Travel outing to the west coast of North America reinforced for me an impression I have formed over the years, about the link between long serving political leadership and/or staff in local government and good outcomes in those places. Big changes in cities requires playing the long game – it take decades to really entrench and make a difference, so the consistency of direction and effort that these factors provide really seems to help. Here’s a few examples from around the world:

At Arlington County in Virginia, next to Washington DC, the most mature transit oriented corridor I’ve seen is also where senior staff, particularly Bob Brosnan, has been “on topic” for decades too.

In Portland Oregon, long term directions to focus on urban consolidation and density have been stewarded by people like Troy Doss at the city of Portland.

In Vancouver, long serving staff like Larry Beeseley, Anne McAfee, Michael Gordon, Randy Pecarksi, and Scot Hein among no doubt many more, have overseen the development of that city into one of the most widely admired models of a sustainable city.

In Melbourne, Rob Adams has stewarded the revitalisation of the central city and surrounds since the 1990s, with great input from Jan Gehl and his people.

Closer to home, at Moreton Bay Regional Council, long serving current mayor (and former mayor of Redcliffe) Allan Sutherland has been instrumental in securing the heavy rail line investment now secured for that region; while at the Gold Coast, the long service of people like my Buckley Vann international colleague Warren Rowe and a stable senior management team over a long period helped secure the light rail investment which is almost ready to roll there and will fundamentally change that city for the better.

Any other examples anyone know of? Or am I right off the mark with this whole theory?

Greg Vann
December 2013


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  1. webbo51 says:

    Greg, I can’t really comment on the outcome but your theory sounds reasonable.