Candidate eager to open council doors

By Mike Dinsdale

2 comments
Matt Keene. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Matt Keene. Photo / Michael Cunningham

More openness and transparency, more diverse representation and taking council meetings out to the people - these are some of the planks of Whangarei mayoral candidate Matt Keene.

Mr Keene is standing for election for the first time, seeking the mayoralty. He is also
standing in the Denby Ward.

He is standing on the Together Tahi platform with fellow mayoral candidate Ash Holwell, who is standing in the Okara Ward, and isn't too worried if the pair split their vote and miss out on the mayoralty as a result.

Mr Keene said despite the pair both standing for mayor, they were taking their campaign seriously and want exposure to bring their issues into the public arena.

"If we were not [standing for the mayoralty] I wouldn't be here getting interviewed by a journalist. It's a way of getting our messages and issues out in the public to get them debated," he said.

"We think there are some issues that need to be talked about that aren't at the moment."

Those include sustainable community development by empowering communities to take control of leading change; far more openness and transparency for the public; de-mystifying council processes and procedures; getting more community engagement and getting elected representation that better reflects the make-up of the district.

Another thing he wants to do - if the rules allow - is take council meetings out of Forum North and into the community, such as at community halls, marae and sports halls to give the community a better chance to attend meetings, have their input and see how council works.

"As mayor, I would aim to lead out a council culture that engages and listens to the people in our community to understand what they need to live well in Whangarei now and in the future. I'm part of TogetherTahi.

We believe our council should reflect the diversity of our community, be more open about its decision-making, and encourage wider participation in the conversations about how we can make our district a great place for everyone who lives here," he said.

- Northern Advocate

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