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Rates hike, budget blowout triggers Nixon’s election bid

Tina Nixon wants to be mayor. PHOTO/PAM GRAHAM

Debate needed on the ‘big issues’

PAM GRAHAM
[email protected]

Communications executive Tina Nixon is standing for mayor and council in Masterton, citing a rates rise above four per cent and the $200,000 budget blowout on the new Masterton District Council office as triggers for her early declaration.

She’s making an upfront pledge that rates will not increase by more than four per cent in any year she leads the council and if they do, “I will not stand again”.

“We will cut our cloth to fit,” she said.

“I have never been in any bureaucratic organisation in my entire working life where you can’t cut some fat out.”

She said everyone in Masterton on Thursday was talking about the rates rise of an average 4.35 per cent and the $655,000 spend, much of it on new furniture for the fit out of Waiata House which would house 77 council staff.

“Absolutely I would have voted against it if I had been on council,” she said of the furniture spend.

“Probably 70 per cent of Masterton citizens are living with tired and mismatched furniture so the council can just suck it up.

“If this was about increased technology to improve outcomes and customer interface I would be in but if it is because the chairs might be threadbare on one corner it is not going to meet my test.”

Nixon stood for council in 2016 and didn’t get in, though she rejects the line that she’s an outsider.

She said she had lived in Wairarapa for 10 years, her son’s family was here and her parents lived in Carterton.

She is on the National Party executive but won’t be seeking National’s nomination for Wairarapa.

She stood down from the board of Wairarapa Water to avoid conflicts. Companies Office records show that happened on June 11.

She said she would remain on the board of Destination Wairarapa as Carterton’s representative and was sticking with her governance role at Masterton A&P.

She acknowledged people would say she wanted “a bob each way”.

“The reason I want to stand as mayor is we need debate about the big issues we are facing, not just as Masterton but as a province.

“This is about making sure that this election is a chance for people to express their views and see what new thinking there is out here.”

She said the existing council needed to be challenged. She hoped others would come forward for the mayoral race. She was interested in a joint platform with other council candidates.

“I am hoping this does bring out some others because there are some very, very good people here who could step up to plate for both mayor and council.

“I am hoping they will come out of the woodwork and maybe we can form a team.”

Nixon, who lived on a lifestyle block north of Masterton, said she came from a strong rural background and the high level of rural rates would be an issue she would be highlighting.

Rural ratepayers were facing an average 5.8 per cent rate rise, compared with 3.9 per cent for urban ratepayers.

“My family were farmers and fishing men,” she said.

Other issues she would be raising were water resilience and housing. There was too much talk about the need for housing and not enough action, she said.

Affiliated to Ngai Tahu, Nixon said the two Wairarapa iwi, who she rated highly as future business players with settlement money, had strong links with her tribe around whakapapa and history.

She shared their concerns about housing conditions for Maori and low home ownership rates.

She also hoped to be an advocate for lifestyle block owners, who were not serviced well by council and were a growing and important community.

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