Hewitt puts up hand for second term

By Victoria White

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Incumbent regional councillor for Central Hawke's Bay Debbie Hewitt  will  seek re-election in October.
Incumbent regional councillor for Central Hawke's Bay Debbie Hewitt will seek re-election in October.

Despite "taking some heat" this year, regional councillor Debbie Hewitt hopes she can continue to be a "passionate, and committed community voice" for the people of Central Hawke's Bay.

The incumbent Hawke's Bay regional councillor for CHB has announced she will stand for re-election in the upcoming local body elections, saying she is committed to ensuring the absolute best for her region.

"For the community I've grown up in, and live in, and love ... it's just about giving back for me."

After being elected to council in 2013, Mrs Hewitt said one highlight of her first term had been the "absolute privilege" of representing the CHB community, and being able to translate their needs and interests into "action around the council table".

Another highlight was being involved with the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme process, as a "robust, sustainable solution" to future-proof the region from droughts was "absolutely fundamental".

"If we get this right, I think we'll be leaving a tremendous legacy."

Earlier this year she was placed under scrutiny, and abstained from discussions involving the dam, due to an alleged conflict of interest, by having land within its proposed footprint.

Following an Auditor-General review, she was able to continue as it was found that while it was likely she had a pecuniary interest in the scheme, this was outweighed by the benefits of Mrs Hewitt being able to exercise her vote on behalf of her Central Hawke's Bay constituents.

When asked if she thought the conflict could hurt her chances for re-election, Mrs Hewitt said not at all.

"It would have been devastating for Central Hawke's Bay if they didn't have a voice around that council table in the most important issue that they've had in a generation. It just wouldn't have been right ... that their voice couldn't have been there without their elected [representative] being there."

As well as three years experience, Mrs Hewitt also had a strong governance background, which she had valued being able to bring to council.

Mrs Hewitt spent eight years on the Board of Horticulture NZ, had chaired the asparagus promotion sector nationally, been a director of Hort NZ's Charitable Trust, and chaired the Horticulture Industry Vision $10 billion 2020 taskforce.

"Looking forward, too, this role's all about balancing sustainable economic development," she said, "I'm absolutely committed to being part of a team that uses our precious natural resources sustainably, while growing our economy. Everything we do has to have that focus."

If re-elected, Mrs Hewitt said a focus would be on the upper Tukituki River.

"Another future issue down here will be ensuring that all of the economic development opportunities for Ruataniwha are absolutely maximised in the CHB region."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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