The Northland Chamber of Commerce surveyed Whangarei's 12 mayoral candidates on five key issues in the district. The Northern Advocate is publishing the responses in alphabetical order, starting with Stuart Bell.
At the September 3 Meet Your Mayor evening, all candidates were asked one of these questions. Mr Bell's response from that night is also published today.
1. How would a council under your leadership establish what is an acceptable level of debt. The council would need to consider any benefits that might come from operating with a level of debt on behalf of the district's residents, against the impact it will have on them to service and repay the debt and their willingness to do this through their annual rates charges. Personally, I would like to see the council operating with less debt than it currently has.
2. What is the council's role in fostering economic development. At a base-line local level, the council has obligations under the Local Government Act to "meet the current and future needs of communities for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services, and performance of regulatory functions in a way that is most cost-effective for households and businesses." The better that it can meet these obligations the more attractive the district will be to do business in and that will go some way to fostering economic development locally.
Beyond that, if it has, or can develop the capacity to, it should be working collaboratively with organisations like the Chamber of Commerce and other Northland councils on a plan for the economic development of the greater Northland region.
3. How would a council under your leadership foster a business-friendly environment. As above, if the council can strive to meet its obligations under the Local Government Act it will help foster a business-friendly environment. If the council can work openly with groups like the Chamber of Commerce to address issues that are affecting local businesses now, or will in the future, that will also improve the environment for businesses.
4. Are the council currently involved in any commercial activities that you feel they should not be? How would you remedy this? I am unaware of the council currently being involved in any commercial activities it should not be involved in. That said, I would be interested to know if anyone thinks the council is doing something it should not and would encourage the council to look into, and rectify, any issues.
5. What single piece of infrastructure do you believe Whangarei is lacking that would stimulate economic growth. I don't believe Whangarei is currently lacking any infrastructure.
Mr Bell's Meet the Mayor question was Question 4 - his response on September 3 was:
I don't believe that they are, I don't know that they are, I guess if somebody out there thinks they are, I'd like to know about it.