The Stratford Press sent all the candidates for the Stratford District Council a set of questions last month.
Over the next few weeks, we wil be printing the questions we asked, with the answers we received from the candidates, in the paper and online.
This week, candidates answer the question:
Do you support the current urban / rural ward system, or would you prefer candidates were elected at large? Would you support a separate Māori ward?
Grant Boyde: Yes I do support the current urban / rural ward system as both have fundamentally different issues. Sixty one per cent of general rates and UAGC comes from the rural sector, that is why we must have good rural representation. I wouldn't support a separate Māori ward, as I believe in democracy and a healthy democratic process, but I do believe the relationship with iwi needs to be better and a discussion with iwi on how that looks needs to happen sooner rather than later.
Rick Coplestone: I support the current system. I believe we should still maintain close links with Māori and I would like to see more Māori put their names forward.
Peter Dalziel: I would support a mix; two Rural, two Urban and the balance 'At Large'. I would also prefer to see the number of elected members reduced to eight plus the Mayor. I do not support a separate Māori ward. Councillors represent the interests of all people in the district including Māori and in terms of Treaty obligations, the Council consults with Māori on specific issues. However there is no question that collectively the eight iwi in Taranaki will increasingly have a significant influence on our regional economy so we will need to work closely with them.
Stephen Dravitzki: Based on the geography of the Stratford district I believe the current system is fine. I would support a Māori Ward if it was identified that we needed one.
Jono Erwood: I support the current urban / rural ward system. This is a fair representation of Councillors in each of the areas according to the number of resident electors (Urban - 4,115 resident electors and six Councillors; Rural – 2,525 resident electors and four Councillors). Stratford is very fortunate to have a great cross-section of the community standing this election. I believe if anyone wants to stand they can and should be elected on their merits. Council is committed to engaging with local iwi on a regular basis.
Laurie Gooch: Yes, the current system is working well. A separate Māori ward is not required as we already have a consultation process with iwi in place.
John Gray: I support the current system and would support a democratic process for any proposed alterations to this.
Amanda Harris: Yes, I do support the current urban/rural ward system. It provides an excellent opportunity for diversity at the council table. I would like to learn more about Māori wards before committing myself to an answer. However, I believe that the current systems allow all ethnicities to work in partnership for the better of the community.
Rawinia Henderson: I choose to support any demographic that needs to be represented at local government level if it is to benefit community collective. For example, our agricultural sector are major financial/economic contributors to our community and need representation to support their needs. Our local businessss/Services/Education Institutions/Healthcare/Communities should be fairly represented. The question isn't about supporting "A separate Māori Ward". Māori sit at the biggest table in our country, Māori representation sits on our DHB, why are they not represented at our local table? There is no treaty partnership if only one partner is sitting at the table.
Christopher James: The current system is fine. Without it, I worry about the rural voice being lost to the urban voting power. I would like to see some frank conversation around how many councillors we actually need. I'm not convinced that more is better. My philosophy is quality over quantity. As for the Māori ward issue - as tangata whenua myself I don't see the benefit and as it stands I would vote against any proposal to introduce a Māori ward. We don't need our own ward to achieve representation.
Alan Jamieson: Yes I prefer the current system. If elected at large it may disadvantage the rural voters. I believe that everyone has an equal chance to stand for a seat at the council table. But I am keen to have the views of Māori supported around discussions and decisions.
Vaughan Jones: I am a strong supporter of the rural /urban wards. Each ward has their own unique requirements of the council and both need to have representation.
I don't believe there is a need for a separate Māori Ward.
Graham Kelly: Urban/rural wards work for us. We need a good cross section of the community putting their names forward.
Nicole McDonald: I do support the current system as we need someone standing for the rural people as they have quite separate issues. I think that everybody has the opportunity to stand for the council so I don't see the need for a separate Māori ward.
Min McKay: The Stratford district has a large rural community and both wards have different challenges so I support that we ensure there is representation from both wards.
I wouldn't support a separate Māori ward. I believe that as a community we can embrace all different cultures without needing to separate issues based on race.
Tony Milham: It is important that we have representatives from communities that understand the dynamics of particular situations within each load of boundaries with in the Stratford District, so having people on the council that understand particular aspects is a must.
John Sandford: Yes. I believe it is important to keep the two wards. In doing so, the rural community keep their say around the council table and we all work together for the betterment of Stratford.
Ivan Toopi: I support the current urban/ward system, as the needs of urban and rural residents differ. Electing at large would allow potential for some views to be missed. As a Māori, and as a speaker of te reo i would also support a separate Māori ward.
Mathew Watt: Yes, I support the current urban/rural ward system. No I would not support a Māori ward as I do not support segregation. I believe we all have equal opportunity to stand for council regardless of ethnicity, therefore a Māori ward is unnecessary.
Gloria Webby: I consider the rural and urban community are fairly served by the present ratio of councillors, remembering that the full council makes decisions on what is best for the whole of our district.
I would not be in favour of a separate Māori ward. We are one people.