As part of a

Hawke's Bay Today

series of video interviews with local body candidates, senior reporter Nicki Harper spoke to the three Central Hawke's Bay mayoral hopefuls about what they could bring to council if elected.

Gerard Pain

Hinerua resident Gerard Pain said he threw his hat in the ring for the mayoral seat this year because the situation demanded a candidate who felt there were better alternatives to the Ruataniwha dam.


While saving the Makaroro River, and preserving the other rivers from the pollution that would arise from the increased intensified agriculture the dam would generate, was his main drive, he said he had a positive approach to helping CHB move forward.

This included promoting water storage for all of Central Hawke's Bay rather than just some farmers who had signed up for water.

"This would provide more work for local contractors rather than an overseas company building the dam would, and we need more dryland farming practices to make the district drought resistant rather than relying on a water scheme that will not last."

He said he was also in favour of pushing for better and faster broadband coverage across the whole district and would be open to exploring more shared services with other councils.

If the Ruataniwha dam did go ahead, he said he would be committed to ensuring that Plan Change 6 was adhered to, both by the farmers signed up to the scheme as well as those that weren't.

He agreed that it was a challenge to stand on this issue in a district where there was a lot of support for the dam, but people had been coming up to him and congratulating him on his stance.

"It's a first past the post system, and the other two candidates are competing for the same turf.

"There is a whole section of people who would not have had anyone to vote for if I did not stand."

Sally Butler

An intimate knowledge of the district, combined with the ability to listen to people and get things done is what current councillor and mayoral candidate Sally Butler thinks will qualify her to make a good mayor should she be chosen to lead the district on October 8.

While accepting of the criticism being levelled at the council's culture in the lead-up to this year's vote, she is quick to point out that the current council had achieved a lot in the last two terms under Mayor Peter Butler's leadership.

"You need to look at the track record to see how well we have done - stable rates, upgrading of community assets ... and the maintenance of the infrastructure is excellent.

"There are only one or two areas where we have taken our eye of the ball, such as the Building Consent Authority - I do not like the secrecy around this."

A positive, more helpful attitude would be something she would encourage if elected.

"I know that the council and officers are seen as the ones that are enacting legislation ... we need an attitude of helpfulness and problem solving rather than just applying the laws."

A priority in the next term would be to train new councillors so they could understand the technicalities and contribute to decision-making from an early stage.

She said she would also like to see grassroots initiatives investigated, such as setting up a trades academy in the district, and finding ways to attract older people to CHB much like Tauranga has done, with social services in place to support that.

In addition, she could see young people being attracted to the district because of its affordability, making use of modern technology to work in a rural location, and supported exploring options for dryland farming.

Alex Walker

Candidate Alex Walker said her decision to stand for mayor was sparked after seeing the frustration in the community over the current council, coupled with the belief her leadership of various community groups and initiatives could be put to good use.

She said she had gained governance experience as a Board of Trustees member at a local primary school that had undergone unease and change in recent years, and had always had a political bent.

"I have done my homework, I have been to a lot of council meetings in the last five months, including Hastings and the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, and have seen examples of things that work and things that don't which I will bring back to this council."

She said fresh change was needed, as there were past experiences and relationships preventing things going forward.

"Part of my approach is that we need the council governance team to be tight and to know how governance processes work so we are not sucked into management details and blurring the lines."

As such, she said her top priority if elected would be to get a strong team together with a common sense of values and direction, and with the training to get it right from the beginning.

She had a vision of Central Hawke's Bay being an innovative rural community that was united, that would in turn attract skilled professionals to the district seeking the same lifestyle and success.

She said she would like to do this without raising rates beyond the current policy in place, but added that it was important to be open-minded and realistic in terms of financial requirements.

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