There are just two candidates for the Hawke's Bay Regional Council byelection for a Hastings urban seat.
Two-term former councillor Tom Belford might appear to be an easy favourite against first-time candidate Jacqueline Taylor, but last year Taylor bested Belford in the race to be a Hawke's Bay Power Consumers Trustee.
Both fell short, but Taylor received about 800 votes more than Belford and missed being elected to the trust by just 45 votes.
Bay Buzz magazine publisher and editor Tom Belford completed two terms as a Hawke's Bay Regional councillor but was nudged out in the last election in a crowded field of candidates.
When living in the US he served in the Carter White House administration and Ted Turner's first philanthropic endeavour before emigrating to New Zealand with his family, where he says he made a conscious effort to engage with his new home.
"It is now almost 17 years working on environmental issues working in this community," he said.
He considers himself a good listener "so I pick up a lot of what's going on – what's on people's minds".
"I think it gives me a depth of knowledge about these issues that is required now.
He said the council has six new members on it while facing "hugely difficult issues sitting there in the balance of this term".
"I don't need training wheels. I can jump in, I can serve out a term with contribution from day one."
He said water was the main issue, from regional demand to the health of waterways "and everything in between".
"This council is about to complete a 50-year assessment of water demand.
"That report is going to raise some very thorny issues about who gets water, what is the quality of that water going to be and so forth.
"I've been on those issues for 10 years now.
"I know where the bodies are buried, I know what the politics of these issues are and it's not something I think the community wants to hand over to a newbie."
He helped create and is a trustee of the Hawke's Bay Future Farming Trust, "which is really focused on what does a sustainable farming future look like".
Jacqueline Taylor owns and manages accommodation at Te Mata House and is on the boards of SPELD NZ and Life Education Trust.
The former TV infomercial presenter and science graduate co-founded the JUNO KiwiSaver Scheme and was a board member of Pie Funds.
"I think with my skillset - being a mum, a business owner, experienced in governance - I've got enough skills to bring to the table, to council and to contribute to making decisions based on research that will implement positive change to the region," she said.
"It is really important that the sustainability, health and wellbeing of our environment, our families and our businesses need to be in balance.
"I think it is really important that we strike an appropriate use of our natural resources to encourage reasonable and balanced economic development.
"A healthy environment supports healthy families. And healthy families need healthy businesses."
She said the biggest issue for the Hastings constituency was the continuation of the council's good relationship with Te Mata Park.
"Te Mata Peak is a true taonga – a true gift – and it gets visited by over a million people a year.
The park was under stress "and we need to conserve that".
She would also focus on urban waterways so there was better access "to enjoy them, to swim in them, for many generations to come".
"They need to be cleaned up and I am so supportive of all the amazing work that has been done.
"I'd also like to encourage continued education and communication between council and community.
"I am very committed to education and I would love to see more schools engaged with Enviroschools."
She said her finance sector experience would help in controlling council funding.
"With that experience I would be able to ensure that the rates are spent wisely."
There is a third name on the ballot, but Joe Walding-Karaitiana has withdrawn from the race, a byelection made necessary after council chairman Rex Graham resigned due to ill health.
Voting papers are due in Hastings letterboxes by August 24, with polling day September 10.
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