Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai has put her hat into the ring for a third term, saying she's proud of what she has achieved so far and excited about the district's future.
Mai is in her second term as Mayor, after previously serving as a councillor, and said she has been fielding questions from many people asking if she is standing for re-election.
Her response is an emphatic ''Yes''.
''We have achieved so much in the last two terms and there is the buzz of success and excitement for what is on the horizon,'' Mai said.
''As Mayor, I lead a council that is in a financially healthy position. We have lowered debt; we now adhere to balanced budgets and follow a rigorous planning and procurement process that meets the needs of our ratepayers. And we ensure ongoing project costs are built into initial costings while working to have future costs clear and budgeted for.''
She believed the council is building a community where young people have hope for the future.
''With development of the Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery and the Hihiaua Cultural Centre, we are strengthening our connections and storytelling. At Matariki, progress on the Hihiaua Cultural Centre was revealed celebrating innovation, cultural artists and entrepreneurs. And the Hatea Loop and shared paths are contributing to our health and wellbeing.''
Mai said there is a lot of work to do to meet the community's wider expectations. Climate change, waters (drinking, waste and storm), transport and sustainability are major issues we face, she said.
''We have a duty to plan for the impact of climate change on our district. We also have a responsibility as citizens of the world to make every effort we can to reduce our environmental impact.''
Mai said the council has planned for a growing population triggering greater demands on drinking water and she is confident upgrades of the district's wastewater treatment systems have resulted in better water quality in Whangārei's rivers and harbour. The next priority is more investment in the stormwater network.
"We have budgeted $34.1 million to be spent in the 2018-28 Long Term Plan (LTP) on stormwater – a 53 per cent increase on the previous 10-year plan.''
Environmental, social and technological changes loom in the transport arena, with Mai flagging electric, hydrogen and self-drive vehicles, scooters, bikes and greater use of public transport, possibly also the return of rail as potential solutions.
However, unsealed roads in the district are a concern.
''Central Government cut subsidies in 2009, slowing down our capacity to seal rural roads. Council is now able to invest more in sealing. We added $1 million per year in the LTP and topped that up with a further $2 million in this year's Annual Plan.''
Sustainability is a core value for Mai and she is proud of initiatives including installing more than 3000 LED streetlights, saving 75 per cent in power consumption. She is also enthusiastic about the potential savings from the proposed environmentally-friendly civic centre.
''A new civic centre was first mooted in 2009, a one-stop shop for our ratepayers, developers and businesspeople. When the centre is built it will save ratepayers $1 million annually, just by having all staff under one roof. And that roof will showcase the latest in sympathetic, sustainable design.
''We are growing and maturing, and we need strong, experienced leadership to ensure continued success."
■ Nominations are open from July 19 to August 16. Ballot forms will be delivered from September 20 with voting closing at noon on October 12. The new mayor, councillors and community board members should be known that evening.
If you are standing in the elections or you are putting on a meet the candidates event in Northland email the details to firstname.lastname@example.org.