The four candidates vying for the Kāpiti mayoralty had their first main speaking engagement last week.

Gwynn Compton, Jackie Elliott, K Gurunathan and Martin Halliday addressed a Rotary Club of Kapiti meeting on Thursday.

First up was Mr Compton who wanted to see a "better run, financially responsible and community led council".

With a background in communications and government relations including having worked with Sir John Key and Sir Bill English, he said he was "standing to bring fresh leadership, smart thinking and a community led approach".

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The Kāpiti lifestyle was "under threat" from things like the growth expected from Transmission Gully which would make housing and rental pressures worse.

"You can't stop it from happening but you can make smart decisions."

Mr Compton, who is also nominated for a districtwide councillor role, wanted to see "real action" to address the Kāpiti housing crisis.

"Kāpiti is meant to be a community for everyone."

He wanted central government to "step up and fund services and infrastructure that we need".

His time working within central government meant "I know how to get stuff to the top of decision makers' list".

"Kāpiti needs to be top of the queue.

"The Government does want to help us and they do want to make life easier."

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The second speaker was Ms Elliott who said she had gained a lot of experience as well as various roles in her six years as a councillor.

"As your mayor I really want to continue to lead a cohesive team at the table.

"We've had a really good triennium and it has been way better than the triennium before when there was a lot of bullying and things going on.

"This triennium we've had a solid team and worked really well together."

Ms Elliott, who has also nominated herself for a districtwide councillor role, said council had the opportunity now, more than ever, "to being enablers".

"Council can easily make decisions that disable the public especially the most vulnerable.

"So it's incredibly important to me that every opportunity that we have to make the people of Kāpiti's lives better, we should just grab it and do our best to make everyone feel safe and cared for."

Asked by an audience member what her most significant achievement in a leadership role was, Ms Elliott said, "Facing down the issues of bullying and really nasty culture in KCDC, and learning from that, taking it away and creating a safe environment."

The third speaker was Mr Gurunathan who said the council had done well on various fronts during the three years he had been mayor.

"What this shows is the ability of council, elected members and management, to work together for the benefit of the community."

Mr Gurunathan, who is only seeking the mayoralty, said elected members had respect for each other while also knowing each was a representative of the public.

"So even though you may disagree with a person you need to respect the mandate they have.

"I think that's a very important principle to have in a democracy ... and you can also empower your council... "

While there had been highlights, there was one particular lowlight.

"We were almost blindsided by the Waikanae library building but we didn't flinch from that and asked for a special investigation.

"The Morrison Low report was surgical in its exposure off all the things that were wrong."

The library had been "a creeping disaster for almost 15 years".

He noted he was chairing a subcommittee that was looking at the terms of reference for an organisational review of the whole council.

Mr Gurunathan had "unfinished business".

"I think I have had a good run, a united council, doing the business, some vision, huge challenges but I think we were up for the challenge."

Lastly was Mr Halliday, who had been in the hospitality industry for over 30 years, including business ownership, and more recently was involved in a number of local organisations including deputy chairman of the Kapiti Economic Development Agency.

He knew full well that as a business owner "the buck stops with you".

"I had the sobering reality of having a great number of staff reliant on me for a weekly wage but thankfully I enjoyed low staff turnover."

His business background and involvement in local groups meant he had "quite a rounded understanding of our district and KCDC".

"I have seen the good and not so good not just of KCDC but of some of our councillors.

"Things need to change."

Mr Halliday, who is also nominated for a Paraparaumu ward councillor role, said he had "the skillset and energy that will be of use to this community".

"We know there are issues.

"I want your views to be my focus.

"I want to be able to commit to this fulltime."