After 15 years as Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule is hoping for a final three-year term in the role

By Victoria White

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After serving Hastings for 15 years as its mayor, incumbent Lawrence Yule is hoping for one more term in the role.

As part of a Hawke's Bay Today series of video interviews with local body candidates, Lawrence Yule spoke with editor Andrew Austin on amalgamation, the Ruataniwha Dam, and his hopes for a final term as Hastings mayor.

The long-serving mayor said he believed his career had been a successful one.

"I take what I do with the greatest of respect, the job I do, the trust people give me, and I work hard to meet those criteria", he said.

The achievements of his most recent term included further cementing the Regional Sports Park, and dealing with the Hawke's Bay Opera House's "earthquake issue". However his most positive achievement had been around the thousand job target, and the economic growth the district had received from it.

Aside from some mistakes - such as not realising the concern around animal control, and council's initial communications with the gastro outbreak - Mr Yule said he was "pretty comfortable" with the term.

People would make judgements on how well he handled the gastro outbreak, however "I did not personally cause the outbreak but I am leading the organisation that delivered the water. I've simply got on, tried to lead it in the way I know how."

This could be a factor in his chances for re-election, however "I won't know until the 8th of October".

If elected for another, and final term as Hastings mayor, Mr Yule said his top priority after dealing with the gastro outbreak would be the revitalisation of the Hastings CBD, and updating the Civic buildings, and Hawke's Bay Opera House.

He also hoped to change the way council communicated, and consulted with people - such as by using social media, and engaging with the community.

"I think public meetings in cold halls and all the decision making in council chambers is a way of the past and I think we need to use modern tech more to bring it into the future," he said.

The Te Mata Mushroom company odour issue was not an easy one to solve, and while Mr Yule was hoping for a "win-win" solution - "it will take time".

"There will always be a little bit of odour from Te Mata Mushrooms, and if the residents understand that and they have a say in how bad it is, and [owner Michael Whittaker] makes some improvements then I think everybody can win," he said.

Although he was not a "GE free zealot", Mr Yule said remaining GE free could help the district maximise the value of what was produced in the region.

A criticism levelled at Mr Yule had been his absence from the district due to his commitment with Local Government New Zealand.

"I work incredibly hard and when there is a choice the priority comes back to what I need to do in Hastings," he said. "I don't actually miss that many council meetings because they're important decision making parts of the council."

This would be Mr Yule's final term as Hastings mayor - a role he has held since 2001.

"I do my job because I love it," he said, "it's had sacrifices in my life, lack of time with my children, a broken marriage.

"There are down sides of doing what I do, but I love this place, I love supporting people, and I love the fact that I can help people in a small way and so that's what I do everyday."

If elected, Mr Yule said "the sky was wide open" when his term finished. He did not rule out positions on boards, but said, "in terms of going into hard core national politics, I think probably my time [has] passed for doing so".

- Hawkes Bay Today

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