Election 2013: Rotorua's council candidate profiles

This is the second installment of the Rotorua Daily Post's Rotorua District Council candidate profiles.

We ask Rotorua's 31 district council candidates four questions with a 200 word
limit. Elections will be held by postal ballot beginning September 20 and
end at midday on October 12.

The questions:

1. What do you think is the biggest issue facing Rotorua right now?
2. Should we be reducing debt or building infrastructure?
3. How would you breathe new life into the Central Business District?
4. Why do you stand out as a better candidate?

Bill Hedges (new)

1. Rotorua has a multitude of issues at the moment. I would say the biggest would be poor decisions and spending too freely using debt.

2. Debt or infrastructure? By fixing the people flow, you create cash flow and both can be serviced along with employment.

3. The council's current problem is because it has largely ignored the business sector and as it shrunk, has needed to impose new tariffs like capital gains tax and economic development levy to make up for the lost business, in turn creating a road block for the very businesses it needs. We basically have two economies - tourism and the city. We need to shift and manipulate the city to manage flow and merge the two economies into one. Retail naturally follows where people are. I would like to see more hands on apprentice type industry as well. A dream is to see the racecourse turned into our international stadium, cultural centre and conference centre.

4. I would stand out as I really dislike politics and am not PC. I am not rich, nor wish to be, so have no agenda. But, at the same time I do not like seeing a city with so much potential being wasted.

Helen Hindmarsh (new)

1. The biggest issue facing Rotorua is the perceived division of "rich" and "poor". People ask why they must pay for expensive tourism initiatives, when they have little resources and will not personally see a return on their investment.

2. We must reduce debt, without compromising service delivery. Some council services could easily be shared with other councils to reduce costs. If no other councils agree to share costs, central government may force amalgamation on councils to keep living costs within reach.

3. Move the bus stop to Hinemoa St. Buses arriving after 6pm should bring passengers to Hinemoa St. Remove barriers to traffic flow at Hinemoa/Tutanekai. Theme the heart of the city as Hinemoa/ Tutanekai - the lovers and create romance.

4. I have personality, rhythm, colour, passion, intelligence, youth (well, compared to some), and will bring life, love, laughter and a vibrance that will translate to riches of the personal and financial varieties. My campaign slogan is "Link Our Vital Energy Rotorua". No co-incidence that the first letters of these words spell "LOVER".

Karen Hunt (incumbent)

1. Stimulating economic growth is vital to attract investment, support job creation across the region and increase prosperity. Development of innovative business opportunities in our manufacturing, geothermal, forestry and agricultural sectors will bring people and investment into Rotorua resulting in a more attractive, vibrant and resilient city for current and future residents.

2. Debt reduction is a priority as tough economic times have raised ratepayers' concern. We must act on these concerns but remember that debt is a tool to share the cost of infrastructure over generations. Some vital infrastructure must be built. Goal: a level of debt we can accept as a city.

3. Recognise the inevitable changes in shopping and lifestyles. Our inner city is too big. Take the opportunity to significantly redesign our heart. Create green space linking Government Gardens with Kuirau Park. Keep asking our residents what they want, work with them to achieve what's possible. Think outside the square.

4. I am already on council and have learnt how to be effective there. I am honest, reliable and dedicated. I am approachable, a good listener and a quick learner. I remain open to new ideas and everyone's point of view. I work hard to improve our city.

Rob Kent (new)

1. When the two biggest growth industries are the council and the police we have a serious problem. The council must be brought back under proper control and some proper planning for the economic re-birth of our city undertaken.

2. Controlling council expenditure is key to both. Whilst we have one council staff wage for every 114 man, woman and child in the district, and uncontrolled expenditure, we will continue to have ballooning debt and 47 per cent of our rates swallowed up in staff wages instead of investing in infrastructure.

3. A complete re-think of our central city and proper plan to transform it into a place that people will want to come to, is essential. We will never have a better opportunity. I have suggested a mono-rail from the airport to the foreshore, together with a five star hotel/transport complex; a waterfront broad-walk of cafes, restaurants and bars; and a national centre for performing arts to rival Sydney's Opera House as a stimulus to generate creative discussion.

4. An extensive international business background, with over 25 years at the forefront of information technology. My background includes business ownership, management, consultancy, accountancy, legal expertise, sales and marketing, as well as farming and the building industry.

Alexis LewGor (new)

1. Currently council debt is the main issue.

2. There are some methods in place to reduce debt, but we need to build infrastructure to accommodate our population.

3. As for the CBD, I like wide consultation. It's a fair go for the community. Any business should have the first say, as they are the ones who are affected. Informed decisions need to be made. I like the idea of a Federal Centre (Rotorua Centre), just like in the old city of Bern, Switzerland. I was there, experienced it - magic.

4. I am Rotorua's new candidate. As residents of this city, whether a ratepayer or not, we make a choice to live here. Our actions make it what it is. I have been involved with Maori and work alongside them nicely and respect them highly. I have been employed almost as long as I have lived in this country. I have owned two homes and rented, I have worked voluntarily in the community - including ethnic and migrants for almost as long as I have lived here. I have always been active on issues that I think affect us as residents and my actions in the community have spoken for what I believe in.

Reynold Macpherson (new)

1. The biggest issue facing Rotorua is the quality of local government. The current council is at the end of its life cycle. It is time for the systematic renewal of the council.

2. Evidence of the need for renewal is seen in the debt blowout preventing the building of infrastructure. We now need a sophisticated debt management plan. But we don't need more prestige projects and higher rates to pay for even more debt. Council must live within its means and rely more on public-private partnerships to fund priority projects.

3. Breathing new life into the CBD will require a fresh regeneration policy, new strategies and a carefully managed development programme. Given the move to large retail outlets, the CBD needs to become an innovation centre where a team of business experts, researchers, angel investors and specialists advise business start-ups and restarts in recycled premises.

4. My stand-out qualities as a council candidate are therefore my experience and expertise; proven as a CEO in the private and public sectors and as a professor with international consultancies. I negotiate responsible policies in diverse communities, get things done in complex organisations and engage our youth, all by being a consultative, innovative, educative and inclusionary senior.

Mike McVicker (incumbent)

1. The single biggest issue facing Rotorua today is the lack of economic growth. This has in turn impacted upon unemployment and crime in particular. However, with the formation of Grow Rotorua and a "can do" attitude at council we are heading in the right direction.

2. Both. With the debt reduction programme that I recommended and some fiscal prudence, satisfactory progress can be achieved here. Infrastructure is an ongoing necessity for all councils and as new legislation has highlighted, is "core" business for councils. Increased transparency and vetting of all infrastructure projects will be required.

3. Continue to promote and support the council's CBD revitalisation programme. Also collaborate with the stakeholders' group as is currently happening. Free parking will also get more foot traffic into the CBD, as will the Eat Streat development. However, the issue of law and order remains a serious issue.

4. I believe that I can offer local government experience, combined with the necessary skills, enthusiasm and time. I will continue to be a strong voice for ratepayers and will continue to ask the hard questions. The lack in fiscal restraint is an area that I will continue to pursue with the objective of a zero-based rate increase.

Trevor Maxwell (incumbent)

1. Improving the water quality and the sewerage reticulation programmes with our Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes partners.

2. A challenging balanced approach of delivering high quality services and core infrastructure programmes in an environment of decreasing available funds and rising operational costs while having a conservative and prudent management of debt.

3. Supporting a new time-based free parking regime replacing meters and pay and display units with new smart eye technology, also establishing a new Inner City Enterprises unit working in partnership with CBD stakeholders .

4. An accessible, loyal, team player with huge experience.

Fraser Newman (new)

1. We need to get our economy working so we have more meaningful jobs across the district. This will require a focus on local people, local opportunities and local businesses. I stand fully behind Grow Rotorua, support apprenticeship programmes and believe we should work collaboratively with the community, education sector, business, iwi and central government.

2. Our debt has become a real burden on the district. Therefore, we should be looking at reducing debt while setting long-term infrastructure priorities. Over the last eight years we have paid over $52 million in interest on our debt. Just think what we could have done if we didn't have this weight on our shoulders.

3. We need free parking with a robust system of time limits as well as consultation with customers, businesses and landlords to create a joint strategy. I am fully behind the CBD revitalization group and the City Safe Guardians.

4. I have the drive, energy and determination to be an effective councillor. My international experience, ability to speak Chinese and my management of an award-winning business all play a part in the skills I bring to the team around the table. Our council needs a modern face that represents the future.

Dave Patterson (new)

1. A lack of growth and a lack of confidence in the city from all sectors. Along with this Rotorua suffers nationally from an image perspective. Immediate reduction in compliance costs on subdivisions and the removal of development contributions. We need to stimulate the building sector. We also need to target big business nationally, through a marketing campaign offering Rotorua as the city of choice.

2. Debt must be controlled but we also need infrastructure. It is unfair to have today's ratepayer pay for tomorrow's developments. Debt spread over time can be good. We need to look at all council expenditure case by case. The airport debt needs to be spread over the Bay of Plenty region as the airport is a regional asset.

3. To stimulate the CBD growth to this city is essential. Some shop conversions to luxury apartments would be great. Council needs to be strict on the type of apartments built to create the right environment. Also green areas within the CBD as rest areas.

4. I will fight for positive change, I have large business experience, I will always be accountable and always be available for consultation. I am a great listener, I believe in strong family values and am a proven team player.

Debs Rahurahu (new)

1. Rotorua has the opportunity to make a change in its strategic planning and focus holistically. People make a community and they are not only business sector and ratepayers. Community at large is everybody.

Inclusive from youth to those with experience, encompassing generations of creative thinkers.

2. This is a conversation to be definitely dialogued with those that know. A balanced approach to create sustainable growth, capacity and capability of more than financial profit. Invest in our community and our people.

3. To stop reacting and respond in a strategic and creative way to a plan that reflects an extraordinary space. To be inclusively accessed by all the community by community-led development. Stop gate keeping?

4. I believe I will bring a unique grassroots perspective to keep council grounded. An ability to understand and communicate community needs.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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