Seven candidates are running in the upcoming Hastings District Council Hastings-Havelock North ward byelection. Hawke's Bay Today is profiling each candidate. Today we feature Wendy Schollum.
Wendy Schollum grew up in Hawke's Bay, but headed to Auckland after leaving school to study and seek further opportunities.
She returned to Hastings with her husband 13 years ago, but in an ideal world she would never have left the region, she said.
She is running for the council with a vision to expand the region's primary-sector base, but also diversify into more knowledge-based industries to encourage job creation.
"If I look at my primary school children, if they left school right now what would keep them here?
"I want to make sure there's inspiration and work opportunities to stay here, and attract young entrepreneurs to the region."
Not long after she returned to the Bay she got a job with web development and digital marketing agency Xplore, which at age 24 she bought, and she saw the digital industry as one example of the diversification that could bring local, high-skilled jobs, she said.
She sold Xplore at the beginning of last month and said the time was now right to have a run at council, having long had a desire to do something more community-focused.
"I always thought I would look at it later, but when I sat down and spoke to some businesspeople and individuals I realised the time was right now while I have the energy.
"I'm heavily invested in the region because my children are here."
Coupled with the need to attract people to the region was the need to ensure adequate housing was available, she said.
"It's easy to shrug this off and say it's central Government's responsibility but it can be as simple as council lobbying or incentivising local industry to solve the issue.
"We also have to critically look at the land we will free up for housing, and not build on productive land."
As well as housing, providing a vibrant city to live in was another area where the council could do more, Mrs Schollum said.
"There's some great initiatives like 'Fringe in the Stings' - that's exactly the type of thing we need but we need it on an ongoing basis.
"Once the Opera House is reopened it will help bring back a bit of night life."
She was also keen to see more parking for staff and shared work spaces created in the CBD, she said.
Her strong business background, sense of accountability and experience in governance having been on several company boards were skills she felt would be useful on council.
She had some concerns about the effectiveness of the council's communications to the public.
"Coming from a business background, customer service is key and council at its core is still a business.
"In talking to people lack of communication has come up a lot.
"I do not think it's council not trying to communicate, it's maybe just a matter of reviewing the channels being used and the type of communication."