Hope and democracy a focus for Rogan

By Alexandra Newlove

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Tireless campaigner Bruce Rogan says he wants to see democracy re-created in Kaipara. PHOTO/JOHN STONE
Tireless campaigner Bruce Rogan says he wants to see democracy re-created in Kaipara. PHOTO/JOHN STONE

Mayoral candidate Bruce Rogan spoke to Alexandra Newlove about why Kaipara may need to look back before it can move forward.

Bruce Rogan has become a household name in Kaipara with his tireless legal battle against the council.

Now, through a bid to be mayor of the Kaipara District, he hopes to go behind enemy lines and lead the district's recovery from the "fiasco" left behind when the elected councillors stepped down in 2012 to make way for the three Government-appointed commissioners who have run the show since.

"I represent hope and a commitment to democracy. I understand what democracy is and its role in making sure we remain a free and unencumbered society," Mr Rogan said.

"There's an awful lot of unfinished business that needs to be dealt to and the other mayoral candidates are not particularly focused on dealing with the past."

The "unfinished business" relates to the more than $80 million of debt racked up by the former council, largely via a bungled sewage scheme at Mangawhai.

The commissioners had since brought the debt level down to about $65 million.

Mr Rogan said despite years of litigation - starting in 2011 - he and more than 1000 others refused to pay illegally set rates which were retrospectively validated - it still was not clear how the council accumulated so much debt.

"I would try to disclose all the facts ... My personal aspiration is to be open, candid and honest with people," Mr Rogan said.

His core philosophy is around community sovereignty.

He resents the fact that council monopolises services and supports a shift to an outcomes-based governance model.

The sewage scheme is just one example of many projects imposed from above, he said.

"My style is 'here are the parameters, here is the standard you have to meet, if you can meet it without council involvement, that's your prerogative'."

Mr Rogan was still involved in lingering legal action against the council and was awaiting a High Court judgment on whether he and about 100 other remaining strikers would have to pay regional council rates arrears.

This week the High Court issued an interim ruling which said NRC rates for Kaipara had not been lawfully assessed for six years.

Mr Rogan said once the regional council-related decision was issued, that would be "the end of the road" in terms of litigation.

"We have never been averse to paying the rates, but we are averse to paying illegally imposed penalties," Mr Rogan said.

In terms of moving forward, Mr Rogan said it was difficult to make a precise plan until he knew exactly what the books looked like. But, he said there would not be hefty rate increases on his watch.

- Northern Advocate

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