Deputy enters Western Bay mayoralty race

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IN THE RUNNING: Western Bay of Plenty deputy mayor Gwenda Merriman has put her hat in the ring for the top job in this year's local body elections.
Gwenda Merriman_pic
IN THE RUNNING: Western Bay of Plenty deputy mayor Gwenda Merriman has put her hat in the ring for the top job in this year's local body elections. Gwenda Merriman_pic

Western Bay deputy mayor Gwenda Merriman has announced she is seeking to fill the void left by Mayor Ross Paterson when he leaves the role later this year.

Mrs Merriman has been on the Western Bay of Plenty District Council for two terms and lodged her nomination form yesterday morning as a candidate for Mayor.

She said she was keen to represent all the communities fairly and without favour.

"To this end, I have decided not to stand for one of the seats in Kaimai ward as well because I believe it is vital that the mayor be able to act in everyone's best interests, free from any constituency demands,'' Mrs Merriman said.

Mrs Merriman joins Garry Webber and Kaimai ward councillor Don Thwaites contending for the mayoralty.

"In my three years as deputy mayor I have represented the council widely across the region on a variety of official bodies and organisations, building valuable relationships at a personal level,'' Mrs Merriman said.

''This experience has reinforced to me the importance of being able to see the big picture for the good of the whole Western Bay.

"While I acknowledge that all demands cannot be met, my impartiality will help ensure each community from Waihi Beach to Otamarakau is represented equally at the top level."

With the mayors of both Western Bay District and Tauranga City councils stepping down at the end of the current term Mrs Merriman said she had experience and could provide continuity.

"The future of the Western Bay will continue to be challenged and it is important that we maintain a balance between economic prosperity and our special way of life, community diversity and natural environment."

Mrs Merriman said she supported affordable investment in key infrastructure and community facilities triggered by growth, but only within an over-arching, long-term plan that fosters innovation and job creation.

"We have an exceptional lifestyle here, and I will do everything I can to make sure it is not jeopardised by ill-considered expansion. This is where I was raised and where I raised my family, and I continue to have a personal stake in the region as a farmer with my husband Ross, and as a mother and export-focused businesswoman.

"I believe strongly that life is about relationships, understanding and open communication."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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