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What MDC candidates had to say

By Emily Norman

[email protected]

Masterton voters had an opportunity to hear what aspiring district councillors had to say for themselves in the lead-up to October’s local body elections at a Meet the Candidates event at the Cosmopolitan Club on Tuesday.

Eight candidates spoke to a well-attended meeting.

At the end candidates fielded questions on topics ranging from water fluoridation, catering for the elderly, governance, and economic development.

The following are summaries of the candidates’ presentations to the audience.

The second Masterton District Council candidates meeting will be covered in tomorrow’s edition of the Wairarapa Times-Age.



Bex Johnson (Urban)

As a fourth generation “Mastertonian”, Johnson said it was time for her to “give back” to the people she cared about and the community which had provided for her.

She is standing for many issues including animal protection, youth employment, economic and CBD development, reducing wasteful spending, and minimising rates increases to inflation or less.

“I believe the community is like a family… they’re all at different stages of life with different needs.”



Ross Cottle (Rural)

A Wairarapa College old boy with dairy experience and irrigation knowledge, Cottle believes the greatest asset in Wairarapa is land.

He said the one “vital ingredient” to boosting economic growth in this area was a reliable source of water for irrigation.

He is passionate about irrigation development, getting wastewater out of the Ruamahanga River in a sustainable way, and providing Masterton with a performing arts venue.

“We have the infrastructure and the knowledge here just waiting to expand.”



Siobhan Garlick (At Large)

As a former probation officer, Garlick has worked closely with parole boards, prisons, and the department of corrections.

In this role she stayed “very much in the background” working on many community projects in Masterton over the years.

She said communication and taking action were the most important duties a councillor has, “even if it’s a simple phone call back to someone saying, hey I took that on board and this is what I’m thinking about doing”.



Mark Harris (Urban)

Having lived in Masterton for 13 years, sitting councillor Harris calls the town his home, a place he loves, enjoys and gets involved in.

He stands to improve deprivation, safety, infrastructure, education, rivers, industry, and employment.

He also strongly believes in youth investment.

“The future is our children; they are going to take control of this town at some stage in the future.

“What are we going to do that will make a difference for them?’



Donna Laing (Urban)

As the manager of a family support centre in Masterton, Laing wants to empower the community and provide families with a safe, non-violent and stimulating environment.

She wants to provide youth with activities to prevent boredom and mischief, education around violence, suicide, and poverty.

She believes in supporting Masterton businesses and employers, and wants to bring common sense into council decisions.

“I make decisions with a combination of knowledge I have, research, talking to others, and gut feeling.”



Brent Goodwin (Urban)

Sitting councillor Goodwin said he was the answer for ratepayers who “want the hard questions answered and the truth to come out”.

He disclosed he only supported four existing councillors and said the council’s main problem was that it was “weak” and “not productive”.

He suggested there should be a meeting held for the Trust House and Lands Trust.

“There’s $90m of public equity that you’re the shareholders of, and a lot of what goes on there ain’t pretty.”



Graham McClymont (Rural)

Two-term sitting councillor McClymont is the self-confessed “boring one” on council – “but someone has to be”.

He stands for stronger asset management planning and economic development, and also has experience as an appointed member on all river committees.

He has a strong interest in improving infrastructure, roading and wastewater, and is in favour of the amalgamation of the three district councils in Wairarapa.

“Often the one who makes the most noise isn’t actually the one doing the most work.”



Gary Caffell (Urban)

Sitting councillor Caffell believes listening to the people is the best way to represent their interests.

He is a proud supporter of Aratoi, CBD redevelopment, keeping rates to a manageable level, and was not in favour of unelected iwi appointments to council.

“As a councillor I believe sincerely that I am there to represent the people.

“The very best way that I can do that is to go to you and ask you what you think.”


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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