Publisher steps up for local election

BayBuzz publisher Tom Belford hopes to provide more transparency to the Hawke's Bay Regional Council if he is elected in October's local government elections.

The Tukituki Valley resident has announced his candidacy for the regional council and intends to stand for the Hastings constituency.

He said Hawke's Bay needed "more jobs and better paying ones" to prosper and while acknowledging the importance of the farming sector believed the region needed to diversify economically.

"I think what this whole Fonterra episode is outlining is we can't be what I call a one-trick pony. We can't be it as a nation, we can't be it as a region.

"The two things I'm most concerned about is the trust issue, which I think has to be solved through a hell of a lot more transparency and the other thing is this diversification.

"The regional council does play a huge role in economic planning here. Those are really the two things I'm interested in."

He was opposed to the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

"We're sort of in a state of suspense in that we have to wait for the Board of Inquiry to make its decision on it.

"We could be looking much more closely at the economics of the whole proposition."

Mr Belford's background included serving in the Jimmy Carter White House administration, building Ted Turner's first philanthropic organisation, and consulting on marketing for non-profit and corporate organisations.

He is also the editor and publisher of BayBuzz magazine and blog.

If elected, he would continue editing the magazine and said he did not regard this as a conflict of interest. "Thousands of political office holders around the world express their views today via blogs, email lists, social media and print - John Key, for instance."

He said he would continue to "publish with utmost integrity". "And ultimately, readers would pass judgment with their wallets."

Mr Belford believed long-term prosperity and the health of our environment must go "hand in glove".

"So my second commitment is to fresh thinking, free of past baggage and outmoded assumptions.

"We will lift the economic and social well-being of Hawke's Bay, but in ways that can be sustained."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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