Anna is a reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

New Western Bay Mayor Garry Webber ready for change

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CHANGE: New Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber is raring to go. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER
CHANGE: New Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber is raring to go. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER

Newly elected Western Bay of Plenty District Council Mayor Garry Webber is ready to get stuck in and provide the "real change" he promised to the Western Bay - including "manageable" rates.

Speaking to the Bay of Plenty Times at his home, Mr Webber said he was thrilled with the result.

"I was hopeful, but never confident . . . You never know until the public make the call."

He advocated to make the Western Bay of Plenty rates "manageable" throughout his campaign.

"We're one of the highest rated areas and that's not sustainable, so really we have to attack it, and do everything we can to keep our rates at current levels."

He said as mayor he wanted to focus on what the community wanted.

"In my opinion, the Western Bay is more inwardly focused on what we do at the council level.

"I want to turn it around to community-led planning, where we go out to the community to ask them what they want and then build up from there."

Mr Webber wanted to engage with youth "at their level".

"To make sure what we're planning for in the next 20-30 years, they're comfortable with inheriting."

The ex-Tauranga Boys' College pupil attributed some of the values he learnt at school, such as respect for others, integrity and honesty, to why the Western Bay chose him as mayor.

"I think I've carried those things through my campaign. I tell it the way it is.

"It was being positive and not running a negative campaign. There was a mood out in the public for change, and we've seen a significant number of the old councillors coming forward, plus a few new ones who were advocating for change, like I was."

Mr Webber said he would have liked a higher voter turnout, but was happy with the elected members.

"I think they're a good bunch, and it's a matter of making sure we're all focusing on the right thing, which is doing what the ratepayers expect of us."

Mr Webber campaigned on "real change", focusing on increasing "efficiency, better use of technology and to provide far better value for the rates dollar we collect".

His first order of business would be a 9am meeting with the chief executive this morning.

First impressions

In a press release, Rotorua MP Todd McClay said he looked forward to working with Mr Webber, "to continue to offer economic opportunity in the Te Puke area".

Youth MP for Western Bay Grahame Woods was delighted with Mr Webber's election result, and said his appointment would be beneficial for the Western Bay of Plenty.

Former Mayor Ross Paterson said he thought Mr Webber ran a very good campaign.

"He got to understand the people and the people understood Garry."

He thought the new council would successfully link the work the former councils had achieved and new changes.

"It's healthy we do get to roll over and don't have the same all the time.

"I've heard all the promises and talking and know some people are going to find it a bit different when they get in there.

"It has been an honour and I've absolutely loved the job and am a better person for it. But I'm quite happy to pass the baton."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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