Mayoralty runs in candidate's family

By Victoria White

2 comments

Despite not having any local government experience, a descendant of Hastings' first mayor is confident he can step into the role.

As part of a Hawke's Bay Today series of video interviews with local body candidates, Guy Wellwood spoke with editor Andrew Austin on his achievements, committing to the mayoralty as a full-time job, and reopening a Wairoa/Gisborne rail line.

When asked, Mr Wellwood said having never served as a councillor, or been a politician was probably his worst quality as a mayoral candidate.

"I suppose I haven't been on council for a term or two, and I'm conscious that people are saying that but neither has [Auckland mayoral candidate] Phil Goff," he said, "and neither have quite a few successful mayors in New Zealand who hadn't served on council before becoming mayor."

However as well as chairing a number of committees, and being "community minded", he felt his experience as a lawyer would be relevant for what needed to be done in the district.

Although Mr Wellwood was pleased with his performance at the Hawke's Bay Today mayoral debate, comments were made that he was too critical of incumbent mayor Lawrence Yule.

A major reason he was standing as mayor, "and going to all the expense, and trouble, [and] time of doing it" when he already had a busy career was because Mr Wellwood was unhappy with Mr Yule's "performance".

"On the night I needed to throw a bit of acid, let people know that the current regime was not all that good and that better was possible," he said.

If elected as mayor next month, his "first and foremost policy" was collaborative leadership - which included improving relations with other councils, having an inclusive Hastings District Council, and changing its culture.

He was also interested in cleaning up the Karamu stream. However the "big issue" was ensuring there was enough subdivided land for housing.

To do so he advocated relocating the Te Mata Mushroom composting operation to free up "an awful lot of sections" in Arataki.

The cost of this had been touted as up to $10 million. To cover this, Mr Wellwood suggested, "initially the district might have to write out a cheque but I think we'll more than recoup that with development fees and subsequently with rates".

Although he had not decided who would be his deputy mayor if elected, there were candidates who he felt would be good in the role - citing current councillors Tania Kerr and Sandra Hazlehurst.

During the interview Mr Wellwood also touched on other issues he has been critical of such as spending millions on the Hawke's Bay Opera House, the Horse of the Year event, and preparing better for emergencies following the gastro outbreak.

With amalgamation no longer an option, Mr Wellwood said the best way of working with other mayors would be to use the best resources of all five councils, and "treat as many issues as possible as regional issues, so the whole region can get behind them".

If elected, the Havelock North resident said he hoped to be mayor for two terms. Otherwise, he would return to work as a lawyer.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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