Bayden Barber is a first-term councillor for the Hastings-Havelock North ward and has put his hat in the ring for the upcoming by-election.
Hawke's Bay Today asked all six candidates running for mayor - here is his response.
1. What is your vision for the Hastings district?
My vision is for Hastings to be the best place to live and do business in New Zealand. To achieve this council must put its customers first - the individuals, families and businesses of Hastings district. There must be less red tape, more transparency, a helpful culture and friendly attitude. Doing business here must be easy, which will help create good jobs and strong economic growth. Our drinking water will be the safest to drink in NZ. We must get the systems right, the places right, and the people right to restore ratepayers' faith in council's ability to provide safe water. We will have the highest levels of home ownership by making housing more affordable and building more of them. This can be achieved while still protecting our vital fertile soils for industry. People will spend time in our CBD and villages because they enjoy the 'vibe'. Council must restore pride and spark life into our shopping centres.
2. What steps will you take in your first 100 days to turn this vision into reality?
As mayor I would prioritise our drinking water. The first step would be to plan a new bore in proximity to the water-bottling plants around Tomoana/Whakatu. Our best water should come to the people of Hastings district. To kick-start more affordable housing I would develop a housing plan for Hastings to sit alongside HPUDS. It would outline how we will build more affordable homes faster, and would get us ready for government investment in housing. To put customers first, I would start by working with ratepayers and council staff to ensure council's consenting processes are fast, predictable and fair.
3. Name the one main area you would collaborate with other Hawke's Bay councils on.
Water. Whether it's drinking water safety and security, or protecting and preserving our waterways, it must be done in collaboration. Water is the life blood of the district and essential to our personal wellbeing and our economic potential. Together we can lead the nation on water issues.
4. Are you in favour of continued chlorination for the Hastings district's drinking water?
Yes. Personally, I don't like the taste of chlorinated water, but I drink it regardless. I would love to say no more chlorine in our water, but the reality is we need it to ensure the water is safe to drink. That is my top priority, keeping our people safe and healthy. There may be alternative treatment options available and as mayor I would fully cost them out so that the community can make some decisions moving forward.
5. Do you support the controversial Water Conservation Order - why, why not?
No. Hastings is the 'fruit bowl' of NZ and is dependent on the industry for jobs and economic growth. Water is a key ingredient to the success of our produce so we need to be mindful of how the WCO could impact this. I support protecting our rivers, but it needs to be regionally driven.
6. What's the biggest asset you would bring to the mayoralty?
I will focus on coherent, measurable goals around water quality, ease of doing business with the council and home ownership. Under my leadership the vision will be clear, expectations will be direct, and staff will be empowered to get the job done to make Hastings the best place to live and do business in NZ.