It will be 100 days since Garry Webber was re-elected as Western Bay of Plenty District Council mayor on February 15. But has he delivered on what was promised? Kiri Gillespie caught up with Webber to find out what he's delivered on and what's next.As Garry Webber enters his second term Western Bay of Plenty mayor, he admits it will be his last.
Webber won't stand for the mayoralty when local body elections rear their head again in 2022.
From his mayoral office in the council's Barkes Corner building, he tells the Bay of Plenty Times he's always believed there is a limited shelf-life for good leaders. And he feels he'll be approaching his after this term. By then, Webber will have served two terms as mayor and fourth as an elected member for the Western Bay.
Nearly 100 days into this term at the helm of the district's elected members, Webber admits he is feeling confident and enthused by what has been delivered so far.
One the day of his re-election last year, Webber offered three promises or goals he wanted to reach within his first 100 days.
The first was restructure the council's community boards. The announcement created some angst at first. It has now received unanimous support from elected members and it is on trial, he said.
"I just wanted to make sure those areas that weren't represented by a community board had an opportunity for the same coverage as elsewhere.
"If we go to Te Puke, Te Puke town has access and Maketū has access but Pukehina, Pongakawa, Paengaroa, Maniatutu Rd have no access to a community board.
"It gives better representation for everybody. To me, community engagement is absolutely critical. We are serving the people, not our own agendas. We've got a responsibility to the public."
Another promise offered on that election day was creating a support structure and succession plan for elected members - new and seasoned.
"We are looking at the future generation of leaders," he said.
"We have some good young people I think any of them could stand for mayor, given a three to six-year apprenticeship, like what I had."
Of the incoming, younger generation of elected members, most are deputy chairmen or chairwomen on the council's various boards.
Webber admits he doesn't have the power to decide who goes where "but I made it clear who I would like to see as deputy chairs and there's a general acceptance of that".
New councillors James Denyer, Murray Grainger, Monique Lints each perform as deputy chairpeople in the council's Annual Plan and Long Term Plan, Audit and Risk, Performance and Monitoring, and Policy committees.
Webber said he was "really satisfied" with the outcome of the election.
"We've got a good balance from across the district, balance of views and balance of age."
Despite these, the biggest achievement for Webber so far this term was the chance to deliver on the promise to "sort out the roads".
He described the Government's $933 million investment to upgrade State Highway 2 between Ōmokoroa and Tauranga last monthas the "cherry on the top".
Webber paid tribute to the teamwork of Bay of Plenty Regional Council chairman Doug Leeder and Tauranga City mayor Tenby Powell who, with Webber, diplomatically lobbied for greater Government focus on SH2. The highway was pivotal to the region's current and future growth, he said.
In 1950, the Western Bay region, including Tauranga city, had a population of 18,000. By 2050, the population is expected to reach 250,000.
"We are the victim of our own success."
Managing and providing for growth, the "big picture" as Webber puts it, was the single most important task at hand, he said.
"That's why I got involved in local Government. I still believe there are too many in local Government not thinking strategically. The staff are as good as it gets but they are only as good as the decisions made [by elected members].
Webber said he felt the council had "turned a corner" in seeking support from central Government and things were looking positive for the region.
His focus now was the "big picture".
"How do we make it the best small city in the world? As politicians and councillors, that's what we need to look at achieving in the next 50 years.
"We are here to look after the current and future generations."
For Webber, he hopes this last term will provide a legacy benefiting those generations to come.