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City ward hopefuls

Incumbent Gisborne district councillor Shannon Dowsing told Thursday’s candidates meeting at Holy Trinity that he was going to make an unpopular statement.

“Council is actually doing very well,” he said.

The council was “right on budget”, and “our development is going gangbusters”.

There had been unprecedented funding from outside sources such at the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).

Twenty-one candidates standing for the nine city ward seats, and the three mayoral candidates, attended the meeting. Each council candidate was given two minutes to speak.

Roading and infrastructure were common topics.

Ross Chatterton, said he agreed that Gisborne had a good council, but “I believe we can make it better”.

He was standing because council needed “more common working people”.

Infrastructure was important and every cent had to be spent well.

Pokies needed to be kept out of the district.

“Gambling brings misery,” he said.

Shane Vermeulen, a tradesman and joiner-builder working in maintenance management at Housing New Zealand, said he was running for council “because we need some practicality in there.’’

He wanted to promote safer roading.

Lizz Crawford said she too wanted a pokie-free Tairawhiti.

The machines took about $12 million out of the district each year.

“It’s heart-breaking.” she said.

”I’m about people, the planet and prosperity in that order.”

Deputy Mayor Josh Wharehinga said his highest priority was to get roading under local control, not central government.

Nothing was more frustrating than being approached by the public about roading. Tairawhiti residents and council staff knew local roads best.

Larry Foster said the district’s future was looking good.

“We are topping the country in economic activity — that’s unheard of.’’

Many good things were happening, including population growth, which would spread the ratepayer base.

Gisborne needed younger people.

His children’s friends were coming home.

“If youth want to come back, we’re in a good frame of mind.’

Amber Dunn, a two-term councillor, said she wanted to make three promises.

She would focus on the highest priorities of the region.

As a scientist, she would make evidence-based decisions.

She wanted to make the district thrive, so that people would be successful.

That was the ultimate role of an elected representative.

Courtenay Waikari said she wanted to see Gisborne grow and thrive as a multi-cultural society.

She cared about the environment, the economy and people.

Council should conduct their core business while achieving a balance of environmental, social and economic factors.

David Sly said he was a former motel owner, had served on the board of Tourism Eastland, including two years as president, and helped the RSA out of financial difficulties as manager.

He would operate in an open and transparent manner.

His one promise was to make decisions that would be good for the community and affordable.

Council needed to resolve core infrastructure issues such wastewater, roading and foothpaths.

It was time to get back to basics and get the basics right.

Terry Sheldrake said council had to stop sewerage leaking into backyards during flooding.

With Eastland Community Trust, the PGF, Te Ha commemorations and private investors, “we are looking good going into the next three year term”.

But council had to look seriously at its budget.

There were untapped opportunities in tourism including event tourism.

Tony Robinson said council’s debt was forecast to increase from $58 million to $105m in the long-term plan.

If elected he would support council cutting its coat according to its cloth by slashing non-essential spending.

Gisborne needed a specific plan to increase its population by 10,000 over the next 10 years to grow the ratepayer base.

Glenis Philip-Barbara said council had to increase community engagement exponentially.

She was interested in exploring a ‘‘diversified revenue plan’’ as council could not rely on rates.

As a public servant for more than 30 years she had learned how central and local government could work together.

”We can do better and lift the local economy.”

Dayle Takitimu said she believed in ‘‘service leadership’’ where “we as council have a mouth about half the size of our ears”.

Council needed to be listening to the community on a regular basis and be held to account on issues campaigned on, more often than three yearly.

Alistar McKellow said the first responsibility of council was to protect infrastructure from flooding, tsunami and earthquakes. Council needed a good civil defence plan.

He would only make decisions that were in the interest of all, and did not involve self-interest.

Debbie Gregory said being elected to council, like her role as former Gisborne Herald chief reporter, was a chance to make positive change in the community.

She had a passionate and wide knowledge of the community, including the rural sector where she had previously worked.

Her grandmother, Gisborne’s first woman councillor Frances Gregory, was her hero and mentor.

Rachel Lodewyk said she had a son in a wheelchair. Bringing him into the venue would be difficult.

When challenged from the floor, she said, “I promise you, it would be a challenge”.

“I’m standing up for universal access.”

She was passionate about the disability community.

For Mary Liza Manuel, water was her main priority.

She wanted to stop discharge into the river.

Housing was crucial.

Houses could be subdivided and multi-storey houses built.

There were too many sports fields, which could be used for housing.

Alice Kibble spoke of her 13-year involvement in the voluntary community.

She loved working with people of all ages and abilities.

Her achievements included being nominated for Young New Zealander of the Year.

She had been on the youth council of Gisborne District Council since 2016.

She wanted more people to vote, including younger voters.

She was standing to be the ‘‘face for the future”.

Andy Cranston said it was an honour to be a councillor and serve in a challenging and complex role.

Successes included the War Memorial Theatre rebuild, HB Williams Memorial Library extension, development of Titirangi Reserve and the Oneroa Cycleway.

There were huge challenges with roads, rubbish, reserves and pipes.

“It’s about getting us into a place where we are getting things done, but we’re not handicapping our ratepayer community.’’

Clive Bibby was shocked no one had raised the topic of climate change.

“If elected I will do everything I can to restructure the economy from a pastoral one to one that is dependent on things we can sustain under the threat of climate change.”

Joelene Andrew said she was passionate “about what affects me and mine”.

She could not assume what “affects you and yours’’.

If elected, “share with me your knowledge and your journey so I can open doors for you.”

Tina Karaitiana was out of Gisborne but spoke on speaker phone. She said economic development, infrastructure, wastewater, Waipaoa flood control and freshwater were key isues.

Her hopes were for Tairawhiti to be a caring community, which valued diversity, embraced innovation, and had respect and regard for nature.

Gisborne City Ward candidates are competing for nine seats on the District Council. File picture