With billboard boulevard (Havelock Rd) once again congested with signage another election starts to gain momentum.

For me this byelection has come around quickly, having been elected to council just last year. I campaigned on the need for change then, and that message still resonates strongly today.

Today, however, I have the benefit of having sat in council for the past 12 months debating the issues from within the chamber with my fellow councillors.

Overall we work well together and are doing a fairly good job. I want to be mayor because I really think we could be doing a lot better as a district.

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My vision is for Hastings to be the "best" place in NZ to live and do business! We aren't at that level at the moment, but we certainly can become the best.

One of the things I have seen in council is that we aren't always the easiest council to deal with. Our council needs to be focused on its customers.

That's you. For individuals and businesses alike there must be less red tape, a helpful culture and friendly attitude. Consenting processes should be fast, predictable and fair.

Not only will this help build a better sense of community, make your life easier, but also attract families and businesses to our region and boost our local economy.

Rates income needs to be spent wisely. Council must prioritise spending on core services like roads, water, parks and public facilities to ensure they are exceptional, before spending big on projects outside of our core business.

Our water should be the safest in NZ. We must get the systems right, the places right and the people right to restore your faith in our ability to provide you with the safest drinking water in NZ. Council should to do everything in its power to ensure your drinking water is clean, safe and tastes good.

The first step would be to plan a new bore in proximity to the water-bottling plants because our best water should come to the people of Hastings district.

We can have the highest levels of home ownership whilst protecting our growers. It's not a matter of "this" or "that"! We can free up land that is less productive for development. There are also some exciting growth models that can be used that support smart and safe community building - an urban sprawl isn't the only answer to enabling more families to own their own homes.

Our reputation as NZ's fruit bowl must be upheld and our world-class food-production soil protected. It is crucial to our local economy, creates jobs and is essential to our long-term prosperity.

The fruit and food industry is experiencing rapid growth which is great for Hastings. To bring skilled labour to our city, however, we need more affordable housing. This will help ensure we attract and keep good people here in Hastings long-term.

To help kick-start more affordable housing, a housing plan for Hastings that sits alongside HPUDS should be implemented. This would enable the building of more affordable homes faster. We must be in a position to attract government investment in housing here in the Hastings district.

An important part of being the best place to live is how you feel when visiting our city and village centres. People would want to spend time in our CBD and village centres because of the "vibe". I support the reinvigoration of our CBD and villages.

We should harness the creative juices of the community to find solutions and create the "Hastings vibe". We must work together with city landlords, Hastings Business Association, retailers and customers to make it happen.

The Havelock North Village and Village Green are good examples of how vibrancy and community spirit can be enhanced by working together collaboratively. Flaxmere locals also deserve a vibrant village. I would work with stakeholders to bring about the change needed to restore pride and spark life into the shopping centre. This is long overdue!

Our rural hinterland makes up the bulk of our district area. As someone who lives rurally and has served on the Rural Community Board at council, we must ensure our provision of service to our rural communities is of the highest standard.

Earlier I said council was doing a fair job, but we need the best job to become the best place to live and do business in NZ. In order to achieve this vision, Hastings needs a new leader: a leader that will focus on getting outcomes.

I will focus on coherent, measurable goals around water quality, ease of doing business with the council and home ownership.

Through my leadership the vision will be clear, expectations will be direct, and staff will be empowered to get the best job done to make Hastings the best place to live and do business in NZ.

Bayden Barber is a candidate for Hastings mayor in the upcoming byelection. He is currently a Hastings District councillor and chair of Health Hawke's Bay. Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Email: editor@hbtoday.co.nz