Enclosed below are questions from the Waimea Weekly and the answers I provided. No word limits were specified.
Why are you the best person for this job?
A strong council needs a good mix of skills. No one else standing for the Tasman District Council brings to the Council table the skills of a tax lawyer and adjudicator. I also have over 18 years of business experience working in the private and public sectors. I have worked for major multi-national corporations (Thomson Reuters) and large public institutions (the Office of the Chief Tax Counsel). More recently I have been helping residents prepare submissions against a proposed development in the Richmond South area. I am passionate, positive, honest, fair, a hard and tireless worker (with a good sense of humour), and someone you can trust. I am experienced in listening to people of all walks of life, asking the hard questions, and resolving complex issues. I am not afraid to speak up, and can be pragmatic when the occasion calls for it. My former customers for over 18 years considered me someone they could trust to do the right thing, and deliver on my promises. I have always aimed to exceed expectations in whatever I set my mind too. This year you get the benefit of that experience and passion.
Dedicating enough time to your role on council is vital to your success in being effective as a councilor. What others jobs/roles do you hold that takes up your time?
As mentioned above, I am legally qualified. As I undertake work on a contract basis, my time is very flexible. If elected, I will be ensuring my time working for the community, as a councilor, comes first.
Several of you live outside the ward you are standing in, do you think candidates should live in the ward they wish to represent and why?
During my campaign I have walked around a lot of Richmond and have spoken to a lot of people from all walks of life. If I did not reside in the Richmond ward, I think I would have found that task much harder to do. It’s about engagement with, and advocacy for, the ward you represent. I consider I bring those skills to the Council table for the Richmond Ward.
Do you think car parking in Richmond should remain free?
Yes. Absolutely!! It’s what the Richmond community want. It’s just a pity the current council did not recommend that Kmart Plaza and the Warehouse provide ground level parking under their buildings. Would have been great for rainy days!
Do you support the Lee Valley Dam project?
The Dam project is about securing the supply of an increasingly valuable resource: water. It also avoids potential saltwater intrusion and allows sustainable use of the resource. I support securing our ongoing supply of quality water for the region. How large any storage facility will be, and whether it includes weirs or not, will depend very much on how much we can afford. As I said at the Lee Valley Dam meeting a few weeks ago, and repeated by others, the elephant in the room is funding. In terms of funding I come back to the principle of “equity”. Those who benefit should contribute to its cost.
That said, the TDC does have forestry assets, so perhaps it’s time to decide what we want: – trees or water? And perhaps it’s also time to tap into the Government’s asset sales funds? After all, isn’t this the reason for asset sales in the first place? If the outcome of the Ruataniwha dam proposal in Hawkes Bay is of national significance, why can’t the Lee Valley Dam also be of national significance. After all, the Waimea plains generate a lot of income for the region. Perhaps it’s timely for the Council to begin some lobbying?
What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the council and its ratepayers?
Ensuring our money is spent on the important stuff first. And that means infrastructure – like proper storm water systems that work. Weighed against those priorities (including a dam) is debt. The council needs to stop being a bank for every cause. If it can do that sensibly, then it should be able to get on top of debt (and planned increases in debt). It’s about priorities and sensible spending.
Who are you backing for mayor?
As a new candidate, I will work constructively with whomever the community elect as mayor. That said, I am about influencing “change” in council decision making for better community outcomes.