longest serving councillor takes on a new role as vice chairman
Councillor Rae MacKenzie has been elected vice-chair of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Communities and Housing Committee.
The veteran Stornoway South councillor was chosen by members of the committee in a close-run contest with Benbecula and North Uist councillor, Iain M Macleod, who was elected to the Comhairle in 2017.
The vacancy arose after the then vice-chair of the committee, Barra, Vatersay, Eriskay and South Uist councillor, Paul Steele, was elected chair of the authority’s Education, Sport and Children’s Services Committee in January 2021.
Under the Comhairle’s standing orders Cllr Steele then had to resign any other committee positions he had held.
Cllr Rae MacKenzie is the longest serving councillor in the authority’s history, having been elected nine times.
Mr MacKenzie was first elected to Stornoway Town Council in 1970, as the youngest ever member of the Town Council, and was re-elected in 1973.
He was a campaigner for the establishment of a council for the Western Isles, and in the re-organisation of local authorities in 1974 the Western Isles got its first across-island council, which came into being fully in 1975, with councillors serving on two authorities for the year.
The first election for the WIC was held in 1974 and Rae Mackenzie was elected as Councillor for Bayhead, and elected again in 1978, during which time he was vice-chair and the chairman of the Land and Buildings committee.
Not standing for election in 1982, Mr MacKenzie did win a bye-election in Stornoway’s Manor Ward in 1983.
He was appointed Chair of the authority’s Departmental and Organisational Committee - known by some at the time, Cllr MacKenzie reminds us, as the ‘Doom’ committee.
He was re-elected in 1986 and 1990 and became Chairman of the Consumer Protection and Environmental Services committee.
Mr Mackenzie left the authority after 11 years but was re-elected in 1986 and 1990 and became Chair of the Consumer Protection and Environmental Services committee - the predecessor of the current Communities and Housing committee.
In 2012 he stood again for CNES and is now in his second term as councillor for Stornoway South.