Britt Leveridge. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

PAM GRAHAM
pam.graham@age.co.nz

At 23, Britt Leveridge is the first young person to stick her hand up as candidate for Masterton District Council in this year’s elections, but there may be more.

Leveridge is from Masterton and went to Makoura College from 2009 to 2013. She has qualifications in design and works as office manager for Nick’s Auto Services.

On a Facebook page, Brittany “Britt” Leveridge for MDC 2019, she outlines her background and interests, and introduces her slogan “I’m a fresh voice for our district”.

“I just thought there is no point in sitting around moaning about things in the town and not giving it go to help make the town, and the area, better for everyone,” she told the Times-Age.

She wants to make Masterton a nice place to live and entice more people to come here.

At the moment, she says, “it’s a bit bleak”.

She wants more areas for families and for walking dogs.

Everyone she has told about her plans to run for council has been supportive, she says, and she’s looking to have chats with groups about what issues are important to them.

Leveridge has used her design skills to produce a graphic in shades of orange with the message: “I want to ensure Masterton’s a district for locals to be proud of now and in future generations.”

She says a councillor who isn’t standing again has been supportive of her plans and is someone to go to for advice.

Her big hope is that by standing she will spark interest in the elections among younger people.

“I am hoping it will get some more young people thinking ‘Hey she is actually running – why is she running?’ and get interested in the electoral process.”

Key issues for Leveridge are the town centre revamp and civic centre, water meters, a new pound facility, increasing recycling capability projects, and programmes to deliver on economic, cultural, social and environmental priorities.

The Times-Age understands another candidate in their 20s is also considering standing.

The council has launched a campaign to boost voter turnout this year.

In the last local government election in 2016, voter turnout for Masterton was below the national average for provincial areas – 44.7 per cent compared with the average of 45.7 per cent.

The council has designed a campaign featuring people to demonstrate its relevance and motivate people to vote.

Nominations open on July 19 and close on August 16. The postal election runs from September 20, with the polls closing at noon on October 12.

Leveridge wouldn’t be drawn on the suggestion that the existing councillors are too old, saying: “I think it is good to have a range of people”.

More information on the VOTE 2019 local election is available at www.mstn.govt.nz/vote2019/