Wairoa elections: Wide mix may see surprises sprung

By ANDREW NEAL

Hawke's Bay Today is taking a closer look at the election races within our region. Today Wairoa District Council is the focus

Wairoa residents have a mix of candidates this year, with a crowded race for both mayor and council.
Incumbent Les Probert has served three terms as mayor, and despite stating in 2007 that he wouldn't seek another, he's done just that.
Four others are also vying for the top job, each with a different outlook and campaign issues.
With a spread of personalities, votes could swing to any candidate and produce surprising results.
Mr Probert said he had enjoyed his time in the position and would like to follow through on a number of projects he had started.
"We're a small rural town with a small population and with the recession and incomes dropping I want to see if there is something we can do to address that," he said. "I have asked for funding for an economic development plan to help stimulate the economy, to see what we can do to reverse the effects of the recession."
The plan would include expansion of highways to allow easier access to the town and greater promotion of the area as a tourist destination.
Sitting councillor Denys Caves is making a second bid for the mayoralty - in 2007 he received 597 votes to Mr Probert's 1419.
Mr Caves is also standing for council at large and campaigning on economic development.
"Homes and jobs are our committed investment in the district which we must progress in an affordable way," he said. "Promotion of district attributes regionally and nationally are fundamental to attracting development - council must work pro-actively, fostering growth."
Another returning contestant for the mayoral seat is Garry Cooper, also known as Jimmy, who returned to Wairoa for retirement before the last election.


Mr Cooper said he wanted Wairoa to be safer, not only for residents but for those passing through. He wanted to pursue more opportunities for tourism, such as promoting freedom camping. He would also promote council openness and transparency.
"I love the history of this area, where I was born and raised, and part of that is the beautiful river we possess," he said. "The community that resides here is made up of people that have a deep connection to the land and continue to make it the community that it is."
Mayoral candidate Here Nissen is standing on the issues of public safety, education, transport and promoting the region.
"The future of our community will depend on the educational opportunities we provide for our children today," she said. "I will work to improve our schools, ease the gridlock on our streets, improve the quality of life in our neighbourhoods, and ensure that our economic prosperity continues in the years ahead.
"I believe a great community is measured by the quality of the lives of the people that live in it - together we must develop innovative strategies to tackle tough problems like gangs and violence."
Alice Wairau is a new contender for the mayor's job and hopes to make changes in the areas of Maori advocacy and rates.
"I feel the current council does not respect our culture and values well enough," she said. "But I'm not only working for Maori people, I am concerned about people spending so much on rates and not being able to pay for them and not getting much back from them. They are not putting money where it needs to go."
Ten newcomers are among a field of 15 candidates competing for six council seats.
Brian McKinnon is the only councillor not to stand again. Councillors Mr Caves, Denise Eaglesome, Jim Heron, Dave Evans and Benita Cairns are all running.
New contenders are Mike Burton, Dave Evans, Esther Foster, Min Johansen, Craig Little, Gordon McIntyre, Oha Manuel, Pete Robson, Graeme Symes, and mayoral contenders Mr Cooper and Ms Wairau.
Residents can also vote for one of four candidates for Wairoa's single regional council seat. They are Shaun Haraki, John Ropiha, Bill Shortt and Fenton Wilson.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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