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Candidates answer the key questions

Wastewater issues have plagued the Carterton district. PHOTOS/FILE

Carterton District Council

Carterton’s council candidates are seeking support from the community. Local Democracy Reporter EMILY IRELAND got candid with the candidates.

What is one thing you want voters to know about you?

Mayoral candidates

Greg Lang
I’m driven to stand for re-election as mayor because I believe Wairarapa and specifically the Carterton district reflects the essence of Kiwi living. I’m inspired by our community’s aspirations and see the privileged role as mayor as the ultimate enabler. I’m fully committed to the Carterton district.

Ron Mark

I will not be standing for Parliament again in 2023. I worked hard for Wairarapa, got 13 PGF and Shovel Ready projects approved by Cabinet including the Skate Park in Masterton and was voted out. I am done with parliament and party politics.

Council candidates

Roger Boulter

I have worked for local councils, big and small, in-house and as a consultant, for over 40 years, which gives me valuable practical understanding – essential to keeping costs down and targeting services on important areas. My professional urban and transport planning background would add further value for specific challenges.

Steve Cretney

If re-elected, I’m committed to the next three years on council and will continue to advocate for my community, asking the hard questions around the table, and standing by my campaign slogan “Ratepayers do have a voice”.

Jill Greathead

I will advocate for an investigation into our future budgets for cost savings and a return to ‘need to haves’ not ‘nice to haves’.

Steve Laurence

I have been in business in Carterton High St for almost 12 years and have an all-round commitment to the town.

Lou Newman

I’m not just passionate, I get things done. I am heavily involved in and dedicated to our Carterton community. I work hard for various boards and committees and am organising the inaugural A Very Carterton Christmas event. I am driven and am committed to finding solutions as a future-focused councillor.

Michael O’Donnell

I’m a practical energetic person and believe actions speak louder than words. Doing stuff means taking responsibility and sticking your neck out. Doing stuff means you need to be a team player to achieve anything and can get along with others – a good sense of humour also helps!

Dale Williams

I use all my 22 years of local government experience positively and proactively, and always try to make things happen that make a difference for the Carterton district.

Ben Dugdale

A good idea is a good idea regardless of whose mouth it came out of, and political ideology has no place in a community representative role.

What is the biggest challenge or stumbling block facing your town. How will you work to address this?

Mayoral candidates

Greg Lang

Rates affordability and addressing change [especially Central Government Reform] are the biggest challenges. I’ll be front-footing conversations across Wairarapa with community, business, and tangatawhenua on how local governance can be reshaped so it can adapt to future challenges and enable communities to thrive.

Ron Mark

Poor project management, poor project oversight, incompetence in critical management appointments, high rates increases, high costs, weak governance, and weak leadership.

I will provide strong leadership, demand best practice in governance and management, trim fat, and focus on core business such as infrastructure and core services.

Council candidates

Roger Boulter

Unaffordability of rates.

Local councils need more sources of funding.

Roading and transport currently get about 50 per cent government subsidy – extend this to other areas, especially for “unfunded mandates” [extra government requirements, where government should put its money where its mouth is] – together with closer management of spending projects.

Steve Cretney

Carterton’s high rates.

Removing any unnecessary spending on nice to haves or pet projects.

Remove the new Office building from the LTP, concentrate on completing any urgent work on our wastewater network, and push for the Wastewater Project to be completed within the existing budget and timeline.

Jill Greathead

Rates affordability – I will advocate for an investigation into our future budgets for cost savings and a return to ‘need to haves’, not ‘nice to haves’. Also needed is a strong pushback to Central Government funding demands and mandates and a return to a “Work with – not against” approach to shared services with our neighbouring councils.

Steve Laurence

The earthquake-prone status of High St buildings creates a shortage of retail space and is not a good look for an otherwise growing town. I hope to use my experience of being in business to bring redevelopment proposals to fruition.

Lou Newman

Sustainability and resilience with growth. We must balance different generations’ needs and be adaptable. Growth must avoid sprawl, support access and affordability. Our town centre should represent our identity, give visitors a reason to stop, support businesses and be a transport hub. A safe, socially connected community is vital.

Michael O’Donnell

The upcoming 3 Water Reforms will have huge ramifications for the town if they proceed. There are many unknowns, but there are also bound to be opportunities to be seized. My background in civil engineering and business well equips me to be useful in this area.

Dale Williams

Government intervention – reforms, compliance, regulation etc – with questionable logic, detail or democracy, which impacts local affordability. Central Government regulates councils to provide extensive consultation, plans, audit – without funding – but doesn’t require the same of itself. I will continue to work to understand Carterton people’s needs and expectations, and represent and lobby for Carterton district at every opportunity

Ben Dugdale

Post-covid pandemic it would be finding the right balance of expenditure. A lot of things have increased in terms of cost and there would need to be a slight reset in some of the council’s spending priorities. Water infrastructure is the largest cost and with the current Three Waters headwinds, a focus on looking at outcomes if it proceeds at its current pace.

What initiative would you like to facilitate, if elected?

Mayoral candidates

Greg Lang

Continue to lead the development of the Wairarapa Five Towns Trail Network. The goal is to develop 200km of recreation trails for walking and cycling linking the five Wairarapa towns to deliver outstanding experiences and to provide for improved liveability and health outcomes for residents and visitors alike.

Ron Mark

I see no need for any new initiatives. What I see is a need to rationalise the Long-Term Plan, curb extravagance, focus on reality and not buy into pie-in-the-sky thinking.

Council candidates

Roger Boulter

Orderly urban growth and a town with easy walking and cycling connections, good roads and car parking [driving will remain a dominant transport choice], more trains [hourly Wellington passenger service] and more logs by rail rather than road – a chance to apply my professional urban and transport planning experience.

Steve Cretney

Lobby our local MP to ask for Central Government’s help, to provide differing funding mechanisms, to assist in lowering the rates burden on NZ Communities.

Especially those councils who have chosen to spend wisely on infrastructure projects and not vanity projects.

Jill Greathead

Initiate a Carterton thinktank from our ratepayer base including well-qualified retirees who have retreated to Carterton from city life. They are keen to contribute their skills to ensure that our community is run effectively and are mindful of our ratepayer’s ability to pay rates.

Steve Laurence

We need to improve parking near and off High St so some of the thousands of cars that pass through every day can find a place to stop.

Lou Newman

I will be encouraging a rate review to be taken out for public consultation. We must consider if the cost of Carterton District Council services are spread equitably, that our funding levers provide intergenerational equity and are delivered in an optimal way.

Michael O’Donnell

Help with developing opportunities for young people. We have an ageing population and need to keep our young people.

New activities and work opportunities need to be sought. Being involved with Gliding at Papawai and their youth programmes has been a revelation in retaining youth and re-energising the adults.

Dale Williams

Since being elected in April 2021 I’ve already initiated the full council governance review, completed in June, to improve accountability and decision-making processes. I’ll never stop trying to improve and add value to council.

Ben Dugdale

A communication afternoon at the library on a monthly basis for ratepayers to meet and ask questions of the elected members, and will also enable ratepayers to make suggestions, face to face, about improvements to the services that the council control.

What one past governance decision, would you overturn?

Mayoral candidates

Greg Lang

To reverse the sale of the Carterton District Borough farm [located on eastern boundary of Carterton township]. This would have been a strategic enabler in addressing availability and affordability of housing in our district as indicated in the Carterton District Council Housing Action Plan.

Ron Mark

The decision by the current mayor and council to reduce council meetings from once a month as it was when I was the mayor, to once every two months.

Council candidates

Roger Boulter

Carterton Council’s ‘Advisory Groups’ have got out of control – they’re great for tapping into ideas but have sometimes locked council into commitment to vanity projects with high ratepayer costs. I wouldn’t scrap them – they have a useful role – but would make them firmly accountable to your councillors.

Steve Cretney

Adoption of the 2021-2031 LTP.

Jill Greathead

The decision that led to our council taking on a less ‘community-empowered’ governance and management structure.

Steve Laurence

Bringing the community together is a priority.

Not really a governance decision but councillors in Carterton could have tried a bit harder to get the last amalgamation proposal more favourable consideration from voters.

Lou Newman

The decision to accept the lowest tender for the Clock Tower and Wastewater Treatment Plant projects. I don’t believe the council was aware of the risks involved and if the project scope was correctly defined initially they would have realised the huge gap between the tenders and a realistic budget.

Michael O’Donnell

Probably the appointment of Central Hawke’s Bay Earthmovers to the Waste Water Treatment Plant Project, who proved incapable of completing the project. Steps have been taken to ensure this will not be repeated, but future vigilance will be important. The potential for financial damage to ratepayers is huge.

Dale Williams

Decisions are made with the best information available at a moment in time, and are a team effort. Looking forward however, past decisions can always be improved upon and my role as councillor is to focus on constant improvement, careful planning and bringing colleagues forward with logic and common sense.

Ben Dugdale

I simply haven’t been here long enough. I play the cards I’m dealt and decisions made at the table are reflective of both the decision makers and the environment at the time. I would prefer if the clock was painted by those two young people who did a stunning bit of work on the corner.

What are your top three priorities in the role?

Mayoral candidates

Greg Lang

Leading a team that interacts, listens and runs good processes to realise community aspirations. Front footing change to get the best out of central government reforms. Building key relationships locally and regionally to get the best combined expertise and advocacy.

Ron Mark

Return democracy to the council table and listen to the community, especially its leaders and ratepayers. Focus on essential infrastructure and services. Set realistic rates and ensure value for money.

Council candidates

Roger Boulter

Lower rates, through government support in more areas. Negotiating turbulent changes to come [Three Waters reform, Resource Management Act replacement, ‘Future for Local Government’ Review] to safeguard locally-accountable basic services at affordable cost. Correcting past project mismanagement [Wastewater treatment upgrade, Clocktower strengthening] and ensuring this doesn’t happen again.

Steve Cretney

Minimising excessive unnecessary spending, leading to reduced rates increases. Engage with our community and “bring their voices to the table”. Ensure urgent stormwater modelling of the urban area is completed.

Jill Greathead

Rates affordability. Environmental protection – address climate change impacts at an affordable cost to ratepayers. Refreshing local democracy – support elected members by including ratepayers’ ideas, opinions, and actions. Also ensure that a realistic succession plan is developed and acted on, to assure the successful leadership of our community

Steve Laurence

Make Carterton an even better place to work and live. Help the council to be cohesive and effective Look for every conceivable form of funding to minimise the effect of rates on ratepayers.

Lou Newman

Transparency and communication from within the council which will both increase ratepayer understanding while keeping the council accountable. Rate review put out for public consultation. Sustainability in relation to district growth, climate change, reforms and our rates.

Michael O’Donnell

First – Ensure that council costs and therefore rates are held to a practical minimum. Second – Continue the good work being done to improve the township and environment to make Carterton the best little town it can be. Thirdly – Make good decisions balancing present and future needs.

Dale Williams

Helping the mayor and councillors be efficient, effective and economic. Building trust and confidence of council with our people. Ensuring Carterton district keeps punching above its weight as the best district in NZ!

Ben Dugdale

Communication to ratepayers, making efficient and fiscally responsible decisions with ratepayers’ money, and delivering value.

Responses were only edited for clarity or to reduce word count as specified in instructions to candidates.

Carterton candidates Grace Ayling, Robyn Cherry-Campbell, Brian Deller, Steve Gallon, Thomas Lissington, and Andy Rogers did not respond.

This is the last in a six-part series. – NZLDR

  • Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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