Worker's sights on mayor's job

By John Maslin

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HOPEFUL: Rocky Alexander will challenge for the Whanganui mayoralty and a seat on the district council.PHOTO/STUART MUNRO
HOPEFUL: Rocky Alexander will challenge for the Whanganui mayoralty and a seat on the district council.PHOTO/STUART MUNRO

Rocky Alexander is the first face most people see when they visit Whanganui District Council headquarters, where he has been a customer services advocate for seven years.

But now he wants to take a seat at the top table and has decided to stand for the mayoralty and council in the October local body elections.

He is the fourth candidate to announce his bid for the mayor's chain of office, joining deputy mayor Hamish McDouall, councillor Helen Craig and William Osborne.

Mr Alexander, 39, moved to the city with his wife and two boys - now aged 7 and 8 - to take on the front counter position. It is a job he enjoys but now feels it is time to take on a bigger role.

He is not the first front-of-office council worker who has challenged for the mayoralty - he follows the trail blazed by MacKenzie District mayor Claire Barlow.

"She was a receptionist and is now in her second term as mayor, so I've been in touch with her for some advice," Mr Alexander said.

While it sounded corny, he said he believed Whanganui was a great place, underestimated and undervalued outside the district - "and that's a perception we need to put right".

"If I didn't think I could achieve something as mayor I wouldn't be standing for the job."

Mr Alexander accepted his job at council could create a conflict of interest in the election lead-up, "but I've told management and we'll be able to handle that as and when those occasions arise".

"This election is about the people and giving a voice for those who aren't heard at the moment. We've got an ageing population, and I don't believe we engage properly with them. They've got a lot to offer."

He acknowledged the cost of running the city had created an alarmingly high level of rating "and the ratepayers are the ones who always end up being accountable for mistakes others have made".

"We have to try to better manage the finances - and sticking to our core business would be a start."

Mr Alexander said any election was good for bringing change to the council table and that was a factor in his decision.

"I believe we need not rely solely on council management to come up with solutions. We need to go to our community more often and seek their input, their ideas. It's all about listening to the people. Our community's our bread and butter - without them we don't exist, so they must be involved."

He has ideas about promoting more community pride and likes the idea of creating a specific swimming zone in the Whanganui River near the iSite on Taupo Quay.

He has established a Facebook page "but my wife's managing it because I can't be seen doing that while I'm at work".

- Wanganui Chronicle

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