Watson wants three more years

By Zaryd Wilson

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Andy Watson
Andy Watson

Rangitikei mayor Andy Watson says he has achieved what he wanted in his first term as mayor but there is more he wants to get done.

The incumbent is the first to officially enter the race for the Rangitikei mayoralty in the October elections.

There is no challenger so far with nominations to close this Friday.

Mr Watson said if elected, his second-term goals were to see through major town civic centre projects in Bulls, Marton and Taihape along with attracting new business to the area.

He also wanted to ensure Rangitikei got the most out of the Regional Growth Study which identified economic opportunities in the Manawatu-Whanganui region.

Mr Watson said when he won the mayoralty in 2013, ousting two-term mayor Chalky Leary, his first challenge was to get ratepayers on side.

"There were a number of our communities which were disappointed with council and they felt has though we weren't consulting with them well," he said.

"So we wanted to make sure to take consultation to areas of the district that we probably had never been before.

"I think that has worked reasonably well."

Mr Watson also re-introduced committees for finance and assets which focused on those particular areas before items came in front of full council.

"I've actually just debriefed it with councillors and staff and both groups have said that it's been a good change (and) that it's strengthened our focus on finance and key assets," he said.

On the civic centre projects he said: "To some extent it was forced on us by earthquake legislation but we also needed to show some leadership on our main streets."

Changing central Government's mind on its contribution to roading was a highlight of his first term, Mr Watson said.

The New Zealand Transport Agency had floated the idea of lowering its contribution to roads in Rangitikei.

"At the last moment we got that decision changed. We were one of the huge beneficiaries of that change," Mr Watson said.

The flood in June 2015 was the unexpected event in his first term.

"But now when I look back, we've had three to four of these events within the last 10 years so we have to plan for the possibility of future events."

Mr Watson predicted a stable council would head into the next term with only a few changes.

"I think council has been transparent. We've kept rates at a reasonable level," he said.

"I don't think we're going to have half the council change. Possibly the introduction of two or three councillors and I hope I'm re-elected."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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